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RFID Tech Infiltrating a British Institution 123

An anonymous reader writes, "According to, 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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  • Re:Not so bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ramble ( 940291 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:27PM (#16844272) Homepage
    "No, but you could be tracked all the way back to your house.

    Or M&S could track you as you visit other stores, to build up a picture of your shopping habits"

    Please tell me how M&S are going to build extremely powerful radio transcievers sensitive enough to pick out the signal from an RFID tag from several miles away in every single one of their stores and then triangulate your location without anyone noticing or M&S going bankrupt.

  • by ( 782137 ) <joe&joe-baldwin,net> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:40PM (#16844488) Homepage Journal
    It's a public place. A person could feasibly stand out in the open and look at you doing something, therefore you have no reasonable right to privacy. As soon as you enter a private premises though, you have all the privacy the owner of that premises (be they you or someone else) wishes you to have.

    I thought this was common sense...
  • Shelf Stackers Dream (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stevecrox ( 962208 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:22PM (#16845132) Journal
    As a part tme job to get me through uni I work in woolworths, I really like the idea of RFID tags for two reasons. Firstly the security tags stores use are a major pain, I can lose a lot of time when new shop workers either forget to remove them or diasble them. Some of the tags DO damage clothing, having the ability to simply put the tag in the barcode which you can rip off would be great, we'd stop damaging some items of stock, my time wouldn't be wasted and we would cut done of shop theft since not every item does get tagged even if its supposed to.

    But my real reason? I work on the sweets department we have to do something called stock checking, the idea is to go through all your stock, checking the dates bringing the oldest to the front so our stock doesn't run out of date and become unsellable. One day I hope they put these things into sweets and crisps. Today I went through just over a thousand packets of crisps to make sure none were out of date and reordered the lot. If i could wave a scanner, see that the earliest date going was the 1st of Febuary I could have saved myself ALOT of time.

    I know of several of people who work in stores who face similar issues when you talk about some of the benifits it would be extremly helpful. But then in my business module (yes the IET make you do them) it could see my lecturer practically salavating over the possible uses which does make me worry about the potential missuse of the technology.
  • Re:Not so bad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Threni ( 635302 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:58PM (#16845652)
    > So it's okay for some random thieves standing in the doorway of the shop to scan my bags on my way out and know that I've just
    > spend 900 quid on clothes, is it?

    Marks and Spencers isn't that expensive. If you're worried about it, take the stickers off.

    > Come on, have some imagination. This is wide open to abuse.

    You need a pretty good imagination to imagine someone wanting to guess who's bought what. If you want to rob people who've bought expensive clothes, why not pick a high-end/designer shop? Why not just steal the clothes yourself from inside the store than outside? There'll be no-one to physically resist you/punch you in the mouth, and if you get caught you're going to get a far less severe sentence for shoplifting than robbing someone.

  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @07:12PM (#16845786) Homepage
    Britain is already there, the place is infested with video cameras

    ... and in the US, *every phone call* is monitored and recorded. Let's see, that's a tough call, cameras in public areas where you have no expectation of privacy anyway, or every single phone call you make tracked and recorded for later examination. Hmm, it's a tough one but I'll take the first one!
  • Re:Not so bad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ( 782137 ) <joe&joe-baldwin,net> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @07:39PM (#16846056) Homepage Journal
    Where I work, store cards aren't either, they get processed with other payment methods and then ignored forever...

    Anyway, enough nitpicking, you're correct. RFID won't affect any of those things. All of this is FUD...if it helps reduce stock take time (stock take is where you count the stock of everything in the shop at once, which takes an ungodly amount of time-last I heard at my work it took them pretty much all night...) then I don't see how anyone (in retail at least) could NOT be in favour of an RFID system.

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