March 16, 2011
Recently, I came across a news article on the online Wall Street Journal that announced that Wal-Mart will soon track their clothing using RFID tags.
First, they plan to use RFID tags to track individual jeans and underwear to better control their inventory. Sometime this month they plan to place “removable smart tags” on each individual item and a hand-held scanner will be able to read it.
According to the report, if successful, the RFID tags will be placed on other products at more than 3,700 Wal-Mart stores. Wal-Mart being a leader in retail, some predict that other retail companies will follow in their footsteps.
Even though this seems to be a great technology and a way to save money, few bring up privacy questions. According to the WSJ article,
“While the tags can be removed from clothing and packages, they can’t be turned off, and they are traceable. Some privacy advocates hypothesize that unscrupulous marketers or criminals will be able to drive by consumers’ homes and scan their garbage to discover what they have recently bought.”
Another issue from the WSJ article,
“They also worry that retailers will be able to scan customers who carry new types of personal ID cards as they walk through a store, without their knowledge. Several states, including Washington and New York, have begun issuing enhanced driver’s licenses that contain radio- frequency tags with unique ID numbers, to make border crossings easier for frequent travelers.”
Will this give the store the ability to know a person’s identity when they enter the store?
However, Wal-Mart is requiring suppliers to add the tags to removable labels and NOT embedding them on to clothes. This will allow for those scares to be minimized, and they will also have signs, warning the people who are purchasing clothing, about the RFID tags.
Do you think this is beneficial to Wal-Mart