Ready Or Not, Here Comes RFID

from the technology-is-your-friend dept

Privacy advocates worry about the impact RFID could have on consumers while labor unions fear the technology could cost jobs. Both groups had better brace themselves, because RFID is moving into the mainstream and it’s probably too late to stop it. Metro Group, a major retailer in Europe, has just completed a test of the technology and plans to rapidly introduce it to help them squeeze costs out of their supply chain. In their tests, use of the tiny tags increased efficiency, decreased theft and allowed the store to more easily get their hands on merchandise, offering more choice to customers. The tests were not a total success as liquids and some metals continue to hamper detection of the tags, mainly when they were used on individual items as opposed to crates and pallets. High costs and technology shortcomings will probably keep the tags off individual items for quite some time, but not forever. The test results show that RFID can help deliver lower prices and more choice for consumers. So rather than oppose the technology under the vague notion that it is going to harm consumers and workers, it’s time for those who are opposed to it to work together with those who are adopting the chips to ensure that legitimate privacy concerns are addressed. The potential risks of RFID can be solved with technology. Better ability for individuals to read and adjust their own RFIDs once out of the store is one solution, for example, but not enough work has been done in that area so far.

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