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RFID companies, record labels become allies

RFID tags in DVDs. Oooo. Scary.

Will our tastes be exposed? The Wiggles

I think of this as a marriage between two of the most hated concepts in technology.

NXP Semiconductors and Kestrel Wireless next week will show off a solution that lets DVD makers embed RFID tags into their products. The RFID tag will disable the disc until the point of sale. Thus, if the DVD is stolen out of a warehouse or shoplifted from a store, it won't work. Granted, hacks will emerge, but it makes theft more difficult and it certainly increases the risk that you'll get your one dollar's worth when you buy pirated movies in the streets of Hanoi.

The companies say the technology can also be used to safeguard items like big-screen TVs, ink jet cartridges and electric shavers. Plus, retailers won't have to keep items like memory cards or DVDs in locked Lucite cases.

But RFID teaming up with film and record producers? To some consumers, that's sort of like being invited to have dinner with Alec Baldwin, Al Sharpton, and Osama Bin Laden. RFID makes privacy advocates squirm while many in the 18-to-30 demographic are perpetually offended by the attempts of movie studios to keep people from stealing their products. And then there are the conspiracy theories: with an RFID chip in CDs, police organizations will be able to scan the contents of your media collection and know that you regularly watch The Wiggles even after your kids are probably in bed, some will theorize.

But the system does seem to help retailers.