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RFID Usage Expands. Privacy Shrinks.

In a recent news article, a major cruise ship operator announced the conversion away from room key cards to RFID bracelets. Each passenger would be issued a bracelet. The bracelets would be used just like the key card. Passengers would present the bracelets for beverages, gift shop purchases, to re-enter the ship, etc.

Key cards were easily stowed away on-person so that cruisers were not announcing themselves. Not so with the bracelets. 

This news follows the path of a major theme park operation that has also transitioned to RFID bracelets. 

Neither of the articles went beyond the consumer benefits into the balance of the story: RFID readers placed around the ship or around the park will give a real-time position of each and every RFID tag, and thus the wearer. Bathroom break? They know. Stop for a beverage? They know, and where. 

So even though there is a ‘gee whiz’ factor, the truth is, the bracelets also allow the bracelet issuers to track the wearers throughout the subject area. 

The same happened about four (4) years ago at the ski resorts. RFID ‘passes’ were issued, and the ‘benefit’ was that, through readers positioned all along the slopes, the resort could post the yards skied in a day for each skier and automatically post to their social media account. 

Skiers are an independent lot, and some like to ski ‘out-of-bounds’ well, because that’s what they do. But now, the ski resort can quickly scan those areas, see that someone is skiing there, and send the Ski Patrol to remove skiers from dangerous areas or situations. 

Identity Stronghold will be watching this particular use of RFID, and others like it, so that we can keep you informed and protected.