The above image is a quick screen capture of a portion of Second Life‘s virtual world map. On this map there are green dots which represent individual avatars (you can barely see them, but there’s a bunch). In this way, you can see what areas are heavily populated and what areas are vacant. You can identify people who are your “Friends” among them, but you can’t identify unknown individuals, though that’s obviously possible to do.
Now imagine if that grocery Saver Card (you know the one in your wallet) has a built-in RFID chip in it. And using that card/chip, your whereabouts could be tracked just like on this virtual world map. Sound like science-fiction? From an article on AdAge today (Link, free registration required):
But the privacy group Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering cites two patents and two pending applications by Goliath that envision extending the system to track individual consumers in stores and target ads to them at home by using RFID chips embedded in loyalty cards.
I’ve mentioned this before and may already have referred to the patents in question, but thought that this might be a good time to refresh the subject.