Soctech seminar, Fall 2006

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Fall 2006: RFID Technology: SLN 11977 CSE 590 M, Monday 12:30-1:20, CSE 303
(Law students should register for CSE 590 X - sln TBA, everything else is identical)

The past few years have seen a great deal of hype, both positive and negative, over the transformative potential of radio frequency identification technology (RFID). The goal of this seminar is to explore the broader legal and sociopolitical implications of RFID, entering into a discussion on privacy, security, and surveillance that has a solid technical and legal basis.

Seminar organization

The seminar will be discussion-driven, each period led by a small group of seminar participants and/or including invited guest experts. We are also going to produce a seminar position paper that summarizes our thoughts upon RFID and what material we've covered. The intent is that we will all have something coherent and tangible to refer back to after a full quarter's discussion. The document will be collaboratively authored and all seminar participants will be required to contribute, although we intend this to be relatively low-investment attenuated over the course of the quarter.

Basic description of RFID:



  • Government:
    • Passports (trial programs in a few countries, e.g. US)
  • Commercial:
    • supply-side tracking of inventory (e.g. walmart)
    • gathering more detailed information about consumers (increasing information asymmetry between sellers/buyers)
    • enabling buyers to gather more information about products (decreasing above information asymmetry)

Security concerns:

Privacy & Surveillance concerns:

(Proposed) laws:

Potential speakers:

A few companies...