Major European companies into RFID-development

By EDRi · February 27, 2004

The European commercial interest in the development of spy-chips (RFIDs) is growing rapidly. Radio Frequency Identifiers are very small wireless chips that can be read without touching them.

Intel and Siemens have just announced they will open an ‘RFID Technology Centre’ in Germany in March, near Munich. The companies wish to present ‘experience-able RFID-technology’, to show the usability of the mini-chips in logistics, in supply-chain processes, and last but not least, in customer relationship management.

Earlier this month IBM and Philips also announced a partnership to develop and use RFID-tags. Within this collaboration, Philips will produce the chips, while IBM takes care of the computer-systems and services. They will start their collaboration in a Philips semiconductor factory in Taiwan, where they will put the spy-chips on cartons and packaging materials.

Currently the cost-price of the chips, between 10 and 20 eurocent, still makes it too expensive to put them on all consumer products, but the price is expected to drop rapidly as more applications appear. Privacy experts warn about the possible dangers, such as the tracking and tracing of everybody’s behaviour and movement through the ‘network of things’. Products with RFID-tags should be labelled, the tags should be switched off permanently after paying for the product, and the tags should be put on the packaging material if possible, instead of melted into the product.

Intel and Siemens partnership (article in the German e-zine Heise

Press release Philips (26.01.2004)

RFIDwatch: critical website with news, in German and English