Department of Computer Science and Technology

Technical reports

RFID is X-ray vision

Frank Stajano

August 2005, 10 pages

DOI: 10.48456/tr-645


Making RFID tags as ubiquitous as barcodes will enable machines to see and recognize any tagged object in their vicinity, better than they ever could with the smartest image processing algorithms. This opens many opportunities for “sentient computing” applications.

However, in so far as this new capability has some of the properties of X-ray vision, it opens the door to abuses. To promote discussion, I won’t elaborate on low level technological solutions; I shall instead discuss a simple security policy model that addresses most of the privacy issues. Playing devil’s advocate, I shall also indicate why it is currently unlikely that consumers will enjoy the RFID privacy that some of them vociferously demand.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Stajano, Frank},
  title = 	 {{RFID is X-ray vision}},
  year = 	 2005,
  month = 	 aug,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  doi = 	 {10.48456/tr-645},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-645}