We Know What You Read

March 05, 2004

Infoshop.org reports that San Francisco public libraries are preparing to embed RFID into their books. This would help them to find books, speed check-out and save money.

It would also mean that anyone with an RFID scanner could potentially know what you're reading.

How would you like to be given "special treatment" at the airport because you've borrowed a book that some government official has deemed "suspect"?

One of the really worrying things about this development is that there is no chance of these tags being disabled or removed at check-out. The whole point of them is that they will be there for the lifetime of the book.

Katherine Albrecht of CASPIAN said:

I don't believe there are library people rubbing their hands waiting to use this technology to spy on patrons, but if they create the RFID infrastructure in these books, I think someone else will come along and co-opt that information.

Cross-posted from The RFID Scanner

Posted by trevorm


I think you're over-reacting. The information on these tags can only be read and interpreted by a scanner that is attached to the library's database of it's holdings. That database is not made available to anyone else, much less a random person with an RFID scanner. Those tags aren't meant to be removed because they fulfill the functions of barcodes and security strips currently used by nearly every library in the country. Librarians are the last people in this country who want to abuse your privacy rights. We just want a more secure system for keeping our books, DVDs, CDs, etc. from being stolen. Please research the RFID technology use in libraries before writing (or copy/pasting) any future reactionary and uninformed posts.

Posted by: Anna at March 5, 2004 06:25 PM

Oh, and the tags can be disabled at checkout. They're only used to keep track of inventory, not to keep track of you or what you're reading.

Posted by: Anna at March 5, 2004 06:26 PM


Please reread the quote from Katherine Albrecht.

I'm a great fan of public libraries and don't accuse librarians of having a hidden agenda! The fear is that once the infrastructure is in place and becomes accepted, government agencies will demand access to the databases in the name of National Security.

My position has always been that I have no problem with RFID tags providing there is a legal requirement to disable them at point of sale. That would also apply at library check-out. Without such legal protection in force I believe that well-intended schemes like this are storing up problems for the future.

- Trevor

Posted by: Trevor Mendham at March 5, 2004 06:37 PM

Librarian, where have you been? The library itself may not wish to make that database available, but in this day and age can you honestly tell me that that database is impermiable? A "random person with an RFID scanner" is not my concern, but rather, the government. The only people that could do any real damage are not chumps with scanners, they are intelligent people capable of infiltrating a silly little library database. No one is pointing a finger at librarians. Don't flatter yourself-you're the middle man. Nobody expects you to us RFID to carry out world domination. If anything, librarians should be pissed that they'll be used in the spread of this privacy invasion technology. Maybe YOU should do your research. Of course we are being showered with great financial predictions and positive outcomes and reasons to use RFID....WHAT BETTER WAY TO GET US TO GO ALONG WITH IT!? Make it seem reasonable...call people who are opposed to the technology "conspearacy theorists", point and laugh....we are being duped and selling our own rights. how does it feel?

Posted by: Lindsey at July 13, 2004 05:41 PM

All I have to say is all of you need to do a little research into the "mark of the beast". I have already read that in some eastern European countries, they are already making it mandatory that people (YES PEOPLE) get tagged with a RFID chip the size of a grain of rice. Verichip has perfected the technology and it is just a matter of time before all the governments realize that there is no perfect identification then one you implant into a persons body. Wait until they get readers that are sensitive enough to read chips from the air, space, etc... It is just a matter of time. And I have to say that I getting "chipped" at all costs. Even if that means that I have to move to Jupiter of something, because we all know that life is much better on Jupiter... lol

just my .02

Posted by: A Messenger at January 19, 2006 06:37 AM
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