Radio frequency identity (RFID) chips are tiny computer chips connected to miniature antennas that can be placed on or in physical objects. They are used in a wide variety of applications where “contactless” authentication is desired, including toll booths, transit passes, passports, and contactless entry keys.

There are two primary areas where RFIDs raise privacy issues: their use in retail and elsewhere in the commercial sector, and their direct adoption by government. In both cases, RFID tags make it possible for governments, stores, and hackers to identify people at a distance and without their knowledge. Anywhere an RFID reader is installed, a person can be identified—and the more readers that are installed, the more precise that tracking can be.

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