by John Blau

RFID – The World Cup’s Not-So-Smart Tickets

Jun 01, 20062 mins
IT Strategy

Regardless of the outcome of the World Cup soccer tournament in Germany this month, the games already have made history. Never before have fans attending an event organized by the F¿ration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) been required to provide so much information about themselves that can be accessed so quickly.

More than 3.5 million tickets to the world’s biggest sporting event are expected to be sold with embedded radio frequency identification (RFID) chips that will link ticket-holders to a database containing personal identification information, including their birth date and ID card or passport number.

Cup organizers say they need this information to combat black-market ticket sales and to keep out hooligans. But FIFA Secretary General Urs Linsi told the German newspaper Tagesspiegel that he would prefer to collect less information from fans in the future.

Fans viewed the ticketing requirements as excessive and privacy groups questioned the legality of gathering so much personal data for a public event. The German World Cup organizing committee was hauled into court over the issue. (The case was decided in the organizer’s favor.)

There are rumors that security officials equipped with RFID scanners will monitor fans inside the stadiums, but the committee says there will be no in-stadium surveillance. The committee also stresses that no private data will be available on the RFID tags themselves.