samedi 24 juillet 2010

Wal-Mart RFID tags: between economical benefits and privacy concerns

After sustainability, Wal-Mart addresses traceability by adopting RFID tags.

Starting next month, the retailer will place removable "smart tags" on individual garments that can be read by a hand-held scanner. Wal-Mart workers will be able to quickly learn, for instance, which size of Wrangler jeans is missing, with the aim of ensuring shelves are optimally stocked and inventory tightly watched. If successful, the radio-frequency ID tags will be rolled out on other products at Wal-Mart's more than 3,750 U.S. stores.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) offers a number of potential benefits: traceability, inventory management, labour saving costs, security and promotion of quality and safety. However this technology raises privacy concerns.

Wal-Mart is demanding that suppliers add the tags to removable labels or packaging instead of embedding them in clothes, to minimize fears that they could be used to track people's movements. It also is posting signs informing customers about the tags.
I share with you the prescient story published in Page One of the Wall Street Journal and the Opinion of Philip Yam, chief news editor of Scientific American.

1 commentaire:

Louis D. a dit…

Since Packaging school I have heard a lot about the trend of RFID chips used to track people and know everything about their life, and the fear from consumers of beeing spied. And what about excessive radio frequencies that could be harmful?

It is fine to alert consumers of potential risks for their health and privacy, but what could a RFID chip do that cellular phones, credit cards, shops fidelity programs and marketing uses of the "web 2.0" don't already do alltogether? For potential health treats, we should not forget that we live among phones, WiFi, radios and a lot of other visible and unvisible hazards.

Given that, we should not just focus on this trendy issue and keep in mind that we are already bound to this system. RFID shouldn't be separated from the other treats, due to the risk of focusing on a little spot of a bigger problem.