Radio Tags Set to Be the Next Big Thing in Wal-Mart Theft Defense

July 23, 2010

Photo Credit: Maschinenjunge via Wikimedia Commons

US (ChattahBox) – The use of RFID tags – electronic devices that can be scanned from a distance in order to gauge general stock in warehouses – has become popular in retail. But new tags that use radio technology may make them obsolete very soon.

In the next few weeks, Walmart will be placing smart tags on items like jeans and underwear, which will have to be removed after purchase. These tags are much more sophisticated than what is currently on the market, and will give unprecedented ability to read the colors and sizes of inventory out on the racks.

It will also allow them to track items through the store from the backroom, and even back to the manufacturers in the case of recall.

“This ability to wave the wand and have a sense of all the products that are on the floor or in the back room in seconds is something that we feel can really transform our business,” west coast Wal-Mart exec Raul Vazquez told the Wall Street Journal.

But privacy advocates are concerned, and feel that this technology, which has also been implemented by some states for their drivers license and ID cards, is going too far.

“There are two things you really don’t want to tag, clothing and identity documents, and ironically that’s where we are seeing adoption,” Katherine Albrecht, founder of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, said.

“The inventory guys may be in the dark about this, but there are a lot of corporate marketers who are interested in tracking people as they walk sales floors.”

She also worries that criminals looking to stake out a house could use a hand-held scanner, which can be bought from various sources, to search someone’s garbage as they drive past, showing their recent purchases by the discarded tag.

Whether or not that is really a risk, there is the fact remaining that the tags, once removed, cannot b e turned off. Unless completely destroyed, they will continue to act as a tracker. Weird stuff.


One Response to “Radio Tags Set to Be the Next Big Thing in Wal-Mart Theft Defense”

  1. Old Man Dotes on July 23rd, 2010 5:27 pm

    Radio tags can be destroyed with a home-made device about the size of a pack of cigarettes, without physical contact.

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