October 01, 2003

WallyWorld In Your World

"Wal-Mart is so big it's like 10 companies getting together to force bar codes through 25 years ago," said Eric Peters, senior vice president for business development at Manhattan Associates, a supplier of software for product distribution systems. "Even if you're not in their top 100, you might want to do it so people think you are."

Radiotags and chips are smaller, cheaper and will soon be coming to Walmart underwear.

"Very few people grasp the enormity of this," said Katherine Albrecht, director of Citizens Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, a group that was founded in 1999 to protest the use of frequent shopper cards and credit cards to collect data on individual consumers' purchasing habits.

Ms. Albrecht and other critics say that companies and government agencies will be able to monitor what people read or where they assemble from radio tags embedded in their books or woven into clothing. Unlike bar codes, which cannot be scanned unless a laser has a direct line of sight to them, the radio tags can be read through walls, and multiple tags can be read in an instant.

In theory, there may be benefits from keeping the tags active once a product is sold. Washing machines, for example, might identify the clothes in a load and automatically select the appropriate cleaning cycle. And a smart medicine cabinet could tract the expiration on drugs."

Posted by fred1st at October 1, 2003 08:08 AM | TrackBack
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