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RFID Tech Infiltrating a British Institution 123

Posted by kdawson
from the tea-and-tracking dept.
An anonymous reader writes, "According to silicon.com, Marks & Spencer — a department store as quintessentially British as tea & cake — is so pleased with its trial of RFID clothes-tagging that it's planning to roll it out nationwide. Considering that the UK's Information Commissioner recently made a lot of noise around the RFID track and trace tech, warning that Britain is 'sleepwalking into a surveillance society', Marks & Sparks seems to be setting itself up as a tweed-clad Public Enemy Number One."
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RFID Tech Infiltrating a British Institution

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  • It's removeable (Score:5, Informative)

    by dafz1 (604262) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:59PM (#16843784)
    "The RFID tags are contained in throwaway paper labels attached to, but not embedded in" the clothing.

    Buy garment, remove RFID tag. Hopefully, it will be on one of the easily removed tags that you cut off anyway.
  • Re:Spencer != Sparks (Score:5, Informative)

    by RealSurreal (620564) * on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:03PM (#16843860)
    It's like a nickname. Marks and Spencer is widely referred to as Marks and Sparks in the UK. Don't ask me why. It just is.
  • Re:what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <`RealityMaster101' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:04PM (#16843884) Homepage Journal

    They're just using RFID to prevent shoplifting.

    If you had bothered to RTFA instead of jerking your knee, you'd have read that they're using it for inventory control.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:51PM (#16844640)
    RFID technology used in inventory like this is all on the supply-side for inventory tracking and control. The tags are passive devices. You'd have to walk near an actual RFID reader for the tag to do anything. If M&S were to collaborate with the UK gov't and put an RFID reader in every intersection in the country, then I'd worry -- otherwise, not so much.

    Furthermore, the only thing most current tags can "tell you" even if you are near a reader is "hey, my number is (insert string of numbers here)". At best, it would decode into "Shipment #229 out of distribution center #101 shipped on (date)." Nothing at all personal about the buyer. RFID tech is a long long way from making you want a tinfoil overcoat. I've worked in the industry; I know.
  • Re:what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:53PM (#16844684) Homepage
    Actually they're just used for inventory.. the article mentions nothing of loss prevention.

    The RFID tags are contained in throwaway paper labels attached to, but not embedded in, a variety of men's and women's clothing items in stores.

    Someone could simply rip off the label before exiting the store if they wanted to shoplift.

    Anyway, I think people's objection is that eventually the RFID tags will become commonplace. But instead of placing them in easy-to-remove paper lables, they will be embeddeded in the fabric, or other materials/products, to be used as you describe.

    I'm not saying that will happen, although I think someone will try, or that there's any legitimate risk of people being tracked using these things, but that's "how this is bad" in a nutshell.
  • Re:Not so bad (Score:4, Informative)

    by slashnik (181800) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:34PM (#16845282)
    The tag only has an ID, (think MAC address) you require access to the backend database only then can know what is in the bag.

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