As Arab company buys ports, tagging tech is slow to arrive

As Washington roils from the news that six US ports have been sold to a state-owned company from United Arab Emirates, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that only a very small percentage of cargo has been tagged with RFID tags that would actually allow port managers to make sure containers weren't being used by terrorists.

As Washington roils from the news that six US ports have been sold to a state-owned company from United Arab Emirates, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that only a very  small percentage of  cargo has  been tagged with RFID  tags  that would actually allow  port managers to  make sure  containers  weren't being used by terrorists.

Implementation of such systems has been delayed for a variety of reasons, including the cost of purchase and installation, the fact that such devices are not required by law, and the desire to balance the need for security with the need to keep the nation's commerce flowing, said William Corley, executive director of the International Cargo Security Council, a nonprofit association of shippers, ports, retailers, trucking firms and others.

The ports' weakness is in contrast to the news that the Army recently doubled its RFID purchases from  Savi Technology.

Savi Technology's contract with the Army is not atypical The Pentagon often gets first crack at cutting-edge technology, with corporate customers joining the queue later.

"Over time, Customs will probably give preferential treatment'' to secured cargo, consultant  Ann Grackin said, thus speeding entry into the country and saving money. But there's no firm date on when that might happen.

Washington officials point out that they have already taken a number of steps to secure the nation's transport system, especially its hundreds of seaports, which handle 90 percent of America's imports from overseas.