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Smart Card Technology Privacy Concerns

written by: Regina Woodard•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 8/2/2010

Smart Card technology has become a popular convenience in Europe, however there are instances within the United States in which smart card technology is also used, like some credit cards and ID cards.

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    Smart card technology is quickly becoming a new system of payment, identification, and other resources. Smart cards are what the title sounds like - a microprocessor is embedded within the card itself, allowing the card to 'talk' to the system that it will be used on. These types of cards are beginning to replace the standard magnetic stripes that some credit cards card 

    This type of technology is extremely popular within Europe, where nearly every card - from credit to health insurance cards - have this type of microprocessor. Here in the US, these types of cards are used to purchased gas, groceries, and are in use as some ID cards for high school and college students. The technology for this device is incredibly small, allow for quick and easy access and delivery of a variety of items.

    But with this new technology also some privacy concerns. This is one of the bigger smart card disadvantages, as the privacy concerns are warranted and bring up issues for the public that use them.

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    Privacy Concerns

    The biggest threat within technology is of course security and that of the privacy of those of us that use. With the smart card, that is also a concern. Because it is not as wide spread in the world yet - despite being very popular in Europe - there are issues with things not matching up. Magnetic stripes are still used for credit cards, either still issued with smart cards as well, in order to standardize the technology. There is also the issue that while the cards may be able to be secure, it does not mean that the machines that they use will be.

    There is also the public perception of privacy. If the public doesn't believe something holds to a high level of security, they of course won't use it. There is also the Orwellian thought of "Big Brother" watching our every move as technology becomes more and more ingrained within our daily life styles. The very concept of the card is to allow smart card readers 'read' the information, again allowing for quick access to certain information, just as bank or credit card amounts in order to pay for groceries at the store.

    But there lies the problem that with that information gathered, anyone could have access to the information stored. Along with this, what should be the aftermath if a memory problem causes the smart card to erase information from itself? For example, if your smart credit card's memory suddenly goes to a default status and reads no money within the bank account or on the card, who should be responsible for this? The user, who may have accidentally jumped in the pool with the card on him? Or the bank, who were unaware that the credit could be affected in such a way?

    Also, while smart cards themselves are relatively cheap to produce and market, the readers themselves are sometimes costly for a business to install, making the usage that much smaller as they are not enough avenues in which to utilize the smart card.

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    While smart card technology isn't sweeping the nation, it is a viable and soon common way of using technology to store and access information at a simple swipe. There will of course be bugs that need to be worked out and certainly, smart card privacy concerns will need to be addressed and have a readily available solution in which the public deem and feel will alleviate the majority of worries.