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Gillette Pulls RFID Tags In UK Amid Protests 376

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the less-tabs-kept-the-better dept.
akb writes "Indymedia UK is reporting that after protests against the trial of RFID tags by Gillette at a Tesco store in Cambridge, increasing press coverage, a boycott, and the growing mobilisation of campaigners against the intrusive use of the technology, Gillette have withdrawn their trial. RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tags are small tags containing a microchip which can be 'read' by radio sensors over short distances (for background see SchNEWS Feature / 2 part Guardian Article)."
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Gillette Pulls RFID Tags In UK Amid Protests

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  • by dj_whitebread (171775) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:03AM (#6762922) Homepage
    We keep hearing about the bad uses for RFID technology, but do people know of any good uses that don't invade on our privacy?
    • by cliffy2000 (185461) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:05AM (#6762930) Journal
      When used correctly, and in the right hands (if such a thing exists), it's a relatively non-intrusive technology. Yeah, it's a moderate violation of civil liberties -- but there's always freedom of choice. And honestly, having RFID tags is less invasive than a bag checker at the door, don't you think?
      • by dj_whitebread (171775) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:07AM (#6762939) Homepage
        As annoying as the bag checker is, (think Fry's) he doesn't come home with me.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:15AM (#6762981)
          Try fluttering your eyelashes at him.
        • And that is one more job for us humans too. Like the economy isn't bad enough. Might as well replace the whole workforce with a small shell script while you're at it...
        • and as for the bag nazi: no, you can not look into my bag. are you accusing me of theft? then get the cops. the cops can look into my bag. and then I'll sue for defanation.

          shops are not allowed to invade your privacy by going through your bag and pockets.
        • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Friday August 22, 2003 @09:31AM (#6764224) Journal
          As annoying as the bag checker is, (think Fry's) he doesn't come home with me.
          Whenever I'm ask to check my bag, I make a big, loud fuss (to make sure other customers hear it well) about "so you assume that all your customers are going to steal from you? Then, I can assume that you're going to screw me. And if you don't trust me with my bag in your store, why would I entrust you with my bag??? Congrats, you just lost a suctomer". Then, of course, I walk-out. Just did it yesterday again. And, a month ago, a store I've been patronizing for 20 years stopped doing it after I did my little stunt.

          It can be pretty effective; here, we have many street festivals where the organizers search bags to make sure that we don't bring our food/beer in order to sell us their overpriced shit. But there are often stores that sell the same thing in the festival area.
          Well, last year, I managed to slip past security with my knapsack - I was heading to a convenience store to buy some water and snacks for a bus trip (the bus terminal is nearby) - and one of the goons started running after me and caught up with me when I entered the store and demanded that I show him my bag.
          Of course, I told him to screw himself. He then summonned at least 10 other goons by radio and they ganged up on me, demanding to inspect my bag. I loudly refused, with lots of obscene profanity as I did my shoping (and taking my sweet fucking time). When I finally lined up (there was at least 15 people in line), they demanded that I pass in front of the line.
          - No way, you fucking assholes, I'm gonna wait for my turn. So I waited 5 minutes with the 10 goons staring at me (and me having snide remarks once in a while). Then it was my turn, I paid for my stuff (water, a sandwich, a bag of chips and a chocolate bar) then left, and was escorted by the goon squad to the festival entrance.

          Tis year, the same festival had the fence arranged so to let people access the convenience store without entering the festival site... No doubt my little shouting match had produced some results!!!

          Loudly protesting can be effective!

      • by taustin (171655) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:16AM (#6762991) Homepage Journal
        RFID tags are more about controlling inventory than anything else. To the extent that they are about security, they are about stopping shoplifting by customers.

        The bag nazi at the door is there to look for employee theft, not shoplifting. And they don't accomplish that, either.
      • At least I know about the bag checker.

        And not being a sheep, I just walk right by them, don't even look at them.
      • by o'reor (581921) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:22AM (#6763381) Journal
        Well, yeah -- until it becomes a required standard in shopping malls. After all, WalMart can decide some day that in order to have a standardised shoplifting prevention system, all their providers ar required to fit an RFID chip in their products. Remember barcodes ?

        So where will your "freedom of choice" stand when all the shops have adopted this system ? Make no mistake: this is actually what RFID chips providers are puhing for.

        Oh, and I could also talk about how genetically engineered food is being forced down our throats as well, but that would be another can of worms (slightly OT by the way).

        "Freedom of choice" is there as long as it is compatible with the lobbies' points of view. It IS a basic requirement in an ideal free market, but the main (corporate) actors of the current "free market" are trying to avoid it at all costs. Never take it for granted : we have to fight for it everyday.

      • To signify that I own all the stuff that I buy, so should somebody mistakenly walk off with my stuff I can find it again?

        I'd really like one for the car, and the vcr, and the laptop...
    • by Motherfucking Shit (636021) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:20AM (#6763016) Journal
      I work for a contractor of FedEx. FedEx owns or rents hundreds of buildings around town, and all of them are protected in some manner or another. Most of the properties are linked up via an electronic access control system which makes use of RFID-enabled cards. The cards are called "proximity cards," or "proxy cards" for short.

      The system consists of two components, a proxy card and a card reader. The readers are mounted at the doors of many FedEx buildings, and the proxy card itself is worn or held by employees. Each employee has a unique proxy card. The cards are manufactured by a GE subsidiary [65.202.123.2], Casi-Rusco.

      It's an amazing system. When you walk near the door of a FedEx building, you simply wave your proxy card near (..within the "proximity" of..) the reader. The reader, which emits a signal, activates the RFID chip within your proxy card, and your card sends back its unique ID which in turn is tied to your employee/vendor code. Instantly - within a fraction of a second - the database is checked to determine whether or not you're allowed to open that door. If so, the door unlocks momentarily; if not, it remains locked.

      As much as I hate "consumer-grade" RFID, it really is incredibly powerful (and, I imagine, rather convenient) in terms of access control.
      • Yep., same system where I work. The really clever and handy thing about it is that your one card works for every single one of the company's buildings anywhere in the country (of which there are hundreds), so you don't have to faff about when trying to get access to buildings you might only have to go to once. And once you're in that building, you're still denied access to the juicy bits that you shouldn't be allowed into.

        Of course, the downside is that they can track all your comings (but not goings, in
      • It's an amazing system. When you walk near the door of a FedEx building, you simply wave your proxy card near (..within the "proximity" of..) the reader.

        Sorry, but this is not a RFID card as people are talking about. The problem with RFID cards is that they can be modified after they are put in place. For example, the store can update the chip the moment you walk out of the store, to contain the excat time, location and idendity of the buyer. That information can then be extracted later by recyclin

        • >the store can update the chip the moment you walk out of the store,
          >to contain the excat time, location and idendity of the buyer

          Not according to most of the information currently available about RFIDs. Most of them are merely a passive device that can only actively transmit its serial number, and only its serial number. What's done with that serial number is up to the system that queries it, and it could certainly tie together the purchaser's information and the RFID serial numbers of goods purchas
          • About two or three years ago, IBM was indeed working on a "modifiable" RFID tag that would allow us to edit the data on the tag to reflect a few dozen bytes worth of stuff. Price paid, date, etc. But certainly nothing we wouldn't already store on a database tied to that purchase.

            I think when they realized we weren't even close to paying the price they were then asking for "static" tags they dropped the idea altogether.

      • It's a really old system. We've had that in the Cable TV industry for at least 6 years now.

        Oh and I can read your card easily without you knowing it with a simple homebrew setup with a pic and a reader panel set up to have a much larger zone

        I never chased it further than reading, but I am sure that I could with enough time emulate a card by simply playing back what I recieved on the right RF frequency.
    • by Oxygen99 (634999) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:27AM (#6763043)
      Definitely, think in terms of distribution. The ability to track packages through a system or warehouse without needing any manual intervention improves efficiency exponentially. Using RFID in this context means no more barcodes, removing concerns around the ripped or unreadable labels that increase delays in getting the package to its destination.

      I've also heard it used to track railway carriages at high speed as they pass through freight yards, so that freight companies can track which containers are on what train in what order. These uses don't infringe any civil liberties, and are very useful for companies in either of these fields. RFID tech can be misused, but like most things it can be used in a socially responsible and beneficial way too.
    • by DarkZero (516460) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:30AM (#6763061)
      We keep hearing about the bad uses for RFID technology, but do people know of any good uses that don't invade on our privacy?

      Yeah. Embedding it into the tag on my pants, rather than the pants themselves, for inventory management and anti-theft purposes. However, if we allowed that, and there wasn't a law against doing anything more invasive with it, you know that the RFID tag would slip from the tag on the pants to the inside of the fabric in the space of five years. And after that, if surveillance cameras are any indication, the government would find some invasive use for it and it would be protected under the usual argument: "Private businesses do it, so why not the government?"

      That's the real problem. There are a lot of great, useful applications for RFID that aid both businesses and consumers, but there are also a lot of malicious/greedy uses for it. Since average citizens usually can't litigate multinational corporations into submission in the same way that the RIAA can sue Kazaa, Grokster, and their users, /. readers suddenly "blame the tool".
    • by martijnd (148684) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:32AM (#6763070)
      The new "stored value" cards used in Taipei's public transport are using RFID. These are used for access to the subway system and by some of the bus companies.

      Amazingly convinient; just wave your wallet next to the sensor and you can pass through. Don't need to bother about getting the actual card out; so they get points for cool technology value.

      Made out of durable plastic the cards can be "recharged" when they run out of value saving on waste.

      Oh, and you buy them by tossing some coins into a machine (no need for a DNA sample)

      Still can't use them to buy soda or anything else..
    • by sonicattack (554038) on Friday August 22, 2003 @05:08AM (#6763179) Homepage
      Well, at least in Sweden, some libraries use this to allow complete self-service.

      To borrow some books, I simply enter my library card into a terminal, enter a PIN, and scan the barcodes on the back of the books. When I walk out, receivers (similar to anti-theft thingies in use in stores) at the exit notice that the books leaving the premises (and now in my bag) have been correctly checked-out. Of course, if I should forget to properly check out the books, helpful personnel at the service desk would be automatically notified when I try to leave.

      Now that's what I call a good use of the technology!
    • I work in a library and we spend ages every week looking for mis-shelved, lost books. This technology would allow us to find them a lot easier.
    • I want a bunch of these RFID tags, and a handheld scanner to keep at home. I'd put one on my wallet, one on my cellphone, one on my glasses, one on every remote control, etc.

      Then, when I can't find one of the above items (which happens, like, every 15 minutes), I can just whip out my scanner and track the blighter down. No more hunting for keys when you're going out! No more losing remote controls in the couch!

      Okay, so I actually have no idea if RFID scanners are capable of this or not. But it's a neat

    • Yes, many! See, for example: http://www.identitrack.co.uk/usesofrfid.htm
    • by klaasvakie (608359) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:15AM (#6763360)
      We keep hearing about the bad uses for RFID technology, but do people know of any good uses that don't invade on our privacy?

      Yes. When I was a student I did some vac. work for a company that manufactures RFID tags. They aren't the like the very small tags used by gillette, but are bigger and have much more range (30m). Some of the things we used them for:
      1. Automitic Lap and split timing at motorcycle races and off-road rally's.
      2. Embedding them into conveyor belts (with some modification). If the belt breaks or tears, the tag stops responding and the conveyor shuts down.
      3. Tagging ostriches. Males and females need different types of food, if a female approaches the food bowl, one side opens, if a male approaches the food bowl, the other side does.
      4. Tagging cattle. Weighing each cow as they come in at night, coupled to the tag in it's ear. Weight loss is an early indication of disease and other aspects of cattle farming that I do not fully understand.
      5. Tagging gas canisters used for welding. When the truck leaves the company knows exactly what bottles are leaving and where they are going so they can get them back. (These canisters are often stolen)

      There are hundreds of ways to use tags in a good way, you can tag the product, but do not make a link between the product and the person that buys it.
    • by seldolivaw (179178) * <me@@@seldo...com> on Friday August 22, 2003 @07:06AM (#6763494) Homepage
      The London Underground (the subway system in London) has recently launched a new ticketing system based on RFID. Instead of buying the usual paper tickets with magnetic strips to run through the readers, you instead get a credit-card sized "Oystercard" which has been loaded with info on the ticket you've paid for. As you approach the barriers, instead of having to dig your card out of your wallet and feed it through, you just wave your whole wallet at the reader, and it checks your ticket and opens up to let you through.

      This reduces wear and tear on tickets (and hence makes good sense environmentally -- no more millions of paper tickets daily) and is also a hell of a lot quicker. Plus, if you lose the card, they simply invalidate that card and give you a new one with the same virtual ticket on it. Since an annual ticket can be worth nearly 1000 (about US$1500) a way to avoid losing your travelcard is great!

      I love this use of RFID; my oystercard gets delivered today :-)

    • We keep hearing about the bad uses for RFID technology, but do people know of any good uses that don't invade on our privacy?

      This is a silly question, not your fault you're just the victim of hysterical FUD. Do you know of any actual uses that ARE used to invade anyones privacy? Sure there is potential there and it is something that needs to be watched but it's not what these things are *for* nor has anyone anounced any plans to use these in any way that invades anyones privacy.

      The idea behind these th
  • protest (Score:3, Interesting)

    by corgicorgi (692903) <corgi_fun&yahoo,com> on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:04AM (#6762925) Homepage
    RFID tags have the potential problem of a thief scanning my house to see what I have inside.
    • Re:protest (Score:5, Funny)

      by cliffy2000 (185461) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:07AM (#6762940) Journal
      Eyes have the potential problem of a thief scanning your house to see what you have inside. Slashdotters unite! We must band together to ban optic nerves!
      • Re:protest (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcrbids (148650) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:15AM (#6762982) Journal
        Eyes have the potential problem of a thief scanning your house to see what you have inside. Slashdotters unite! We must band together to ban optic nerves!

        While funny, and apparently a good analogy, it fails for a very simple reason...

        When people need to see what it would take to prevent unathorized scanning by optic nerves [sic], they can do so simply by looking around.

        To prevent scanning by RFID tag sensors, one must first

        A) Get a suitable detector
        B) Configure it to read each and every of the potential wavelengths for all RFID tags,
        C) Configure it to understand the protocol(s) and protocol variations for all RFID tags in the area
        D) Then, without being able to actually see limits of the area being scanned, one must scan the entire area.

        The issue isn't really the RFID tags, it's the relatively indefensible position they leave you in against somebody with more techology/money than you have.
      • Eyes have the potential problem of a thief scanning your house to see what you have inside. Slashdotters unite! We must band together to ban optic nerves!

        Hah, another example of windows' lack of security - you don't even need any technical knowledge or root level priviledges to see everything that's going on inside!

        Fortunately, there's a patch for this OpenEyes vulnerability. It's called Curtains and Blinds 1.0.
      • Eyes have the potential problem of a thief scanning your house to see what you have inside. Slashdotters unite! We must band together to ban optic nerves!

        Eyes don't see through walls and blinds. A sufficiently powerful RFID scanner, on the other hand, can.
    • Re:protest (Score:5, Informative)

      by H310iSe (249662) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:30AM (#6763062)
      Range. I've been looking into using RFID tags, the range is horrible. With a -=large=- (1-2cm) ID tag, in good conditions (metal, in particular, seems to reduce the range), a $2,000 reader can read an RFID tag at 1 meter.

      Now if you presume that readers range will increase dramatically and the costs will plummet then it's an issue. I'm not sure that's going to happen, though... from what I understand getting an RFID reader that could read a tiny tag on your stereo through your walls is, at this moment, more science-fiction than the space elevator.
  • by jgardn (539054)
    Why are people so upset with RFIDs? The only possible reason I can see is that they are afraid of being tracked all the way home with them. That is a simple matter of removing the tag when you leave the store.

    Using RFIDs will save billions of dollars a year. Those savings will translate to lower prices for you. What can possibly be wrong about that?

    I think this is just another case of Luddites without anything better to do.
    • by YouTalkinToMe (559217) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:12AM (#6762964)

      In the article, they mention that the new EU copyright directive could make it illegal to deactivate RFID tags after you leave the store.

      If they just included these tags on _packaging_, I would have no problem with it. But to include them in the product and then criminalize removal or deactivation is just wrong.

      • The proposed EU Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive (see FIPR analysis) would specifically forbid Europeans from removing or deactivating Radio Frequency (RFID) tags embedded in clothing and other consumer devices!

        Can someone explain to me what the hell RFID tags have to do with intellectual property? They're a way of tracking packages, short and simple -- nothing at all to do with copyrights, patents, trade secrets, or any other sort of intellectual property.
        • Traceability (Score:2, Insightful)

          by muirhead (698086)
          Can someone explain to me what the hell RFID tags have to do with intellectual property?
          The tag can be used to trace the origins of an item and so determine the validity of any license.

      • What kind of government would legislate, let alone enforce, such a stupid law?

        I am not setting the USA on a pedestal here. We have our own problems with control freaks in government.

        That you cannot disable or remove an RFID after you have purchased an item -- that's a problem that needs to be fixed with elections if possible, or bloody revolutions if necessary.
        • This is yet another idiotc micromanaging laws from EU. The good thing is that these unenforceable laws will simply get ignored by the general population and the law-enforcement people alike.

          So, nothing to worry about here. No need for a revolution - just ignore this stupid law and rip out those RFIDs.

        • What kind of government would legislate, let alone enforce, such a stupid law?

          I think the problem here is that people are misinterpreting the law, and then pointing at it and saying "look it's so stoopid!" when in actual fact they've just got it wrong.

          It is a bizarre interpretation of the law. Their logic is as follows:

          1) The EU IP Enforcement Directive would make it illegal to circumvent copy protection devices.
          2) Therefore, it would be illegal to remove an RFID tag from a box of cornflakes you just p
    • by Ziviyr (95582)
      Those savings will translate to lower prices for you. What can possibly be wrong about that?

      Umm, the market bears the current prices, why should they go lower?

      Replace "you" with "the store" and you have a point, from the perspective of "the store". Maybe thats why they leapt on this now that I think about it... :-)
      • by jgardn (539054) <jgardn@alumni.washington.edu> on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:22AM (#6763026) Homepage Journal
        True, true. If the market bears the current prices, and a drop in costs does not change the fact that profits are maximized at that price, then you are correct.

        Consider this. You are selling 300 units of an item at $3.00 everyday, at a cost of about $2.50 a pop. Every bit of research says that that is the price that you are maximizing profits. If you lowered the price, you sell more units, but not enough to actually increase profits. If you raise the price, the number of customers drops so much that profits are reduced.

        All of a sudden, you find a way to sell the exact same item at a cost of $2.00! While your profits will double at the current price, who's to say they won't increase even more if you lower the price a tad?
        • by Ziviyr (95582)
          While your profits will double at the current price, who's to say they won't increase even more if you lower the price a tad?

          That sort of theory works well for candy bars (to the detriment of public health mind you).

          I'd consider razors a somewhat fixed market. Consumers aren't going to start shaving all day because a pack is a buck cheaper, in fact a buck today for something you don't get horribly often could be seen as negligible.

          You're throwing generic theory at me, we do have a specific subject here.
          • by jgardn (539054) <jgardn@alumni.washington.edu> on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:45AM (#6763117) Homepage Journal
            Yes, I do stop shaving if I can't afford it.

            If razors cost more, I am going to buy less. I'll probably use one for an entire week (like I did in High School when I could barely afford my school clothes).

            If razors are cheaper, I might even use two or three in one day. I like sharp razors and I notice that by the time I hit the left side of my face, the razor has already begun to dull. So I would love to be able to use two or three in a day without worry of the cost.

            Compare the number of people who shave today to the number of people who shaved 100 years ago. It was actually fashionably to grow a beard back then. Many people did so, but not because they were fashion conscience, but because shaving was too expensive for them. Either razors were prohibitively expensive, and difficult to maintain, or the barber shop was too far away and cost too much.

            Razors are not a "fixed market" as you call it. If they are cheaper, people buy and use more. If not, they won't. The cost of the razor is more than the price, of course. It includes things like how much pain the razor induces, how long it takes to shave with it, and whether or not it has RFID.

            Is that specific enough for you?
    • by kfg (145172)
      Not all RFID tags are removable. Those in clothing can actually be incorporated into the clothing itself.

      In the case of manufacturer applied RFID tags to packaged items the tags may be inside the packaging (to prevent instore removal) and the entire package must be disposed of to "remove" the tags. This could be an issue for "Malling."

      On the flip side they're pretty easy to disable, don't last long, and put out a pretty weak signal to begin with.

      KFG
      • That could be a problem. But I am pretty sure you can identify the people who want to remove the tags by their tinfoils hats and their nondescrip black overcoats. The store could offer a service to such people and show them the items that don't have RFIDs, or maybe even disable the RFID chip as the customer leaves the store with the item.
    • by zalle (637380) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:18AM (#6763004)
      There's just a bit of a problem with removing them. From the article: "The proposed EU Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive (see FIPR analysis) would specifically forbid Europeans from removing or deactivating Radio Frequency (RFID) tags embedded in clothing and other consumer devices!"
      • Yeah. Make it easy to remove them and theives will do it in stores. Make it difficult and everyone will have to broadcast his identity and what he wears everywhere he goes. A difficult choice to make... I, for one, would make it mandatory for the stores to fry the RFIDs on checkout.
      • There's just a bit of a problem with removing them. From the article: "The proposed EU Intellectual Property Enforcement Directive (see FIPR analysis) would specifically forbid Europeans from removing or deactivating Radio Frequency (RFID) tags embedded in clothing and other consumer devices!"

        Note that the law does not "specifically forbid Europeans from removing or deactivating Radio Frequency (RFID) tags embedded in clothing and other consumer devices", that the just their interpretation of the law. I
    • It's not just a UPC symbol. A RFID circuit could potentially have it's 'id' read when you move a box from the shelf. As you walk around the store, more readers could read in real-time where the box is and generate a profile of where you stopped and for how long. This could be linked to the final purchase and your credit history and past purchasing habits. They could then sell this information to other stores. Grocery stores would die for this capability and it is also coming soon to your shopping cart
      • Please remove your tinfoil hat. Companies already do this online. They know when you look at an item. When you put it in your "cart", if you take it out, etc. They do this to make sure there is no money "left on the table". In other words, if they see you looking at product A a lot, it can offer product B, which complements A, and offer a discount on the bundle. This benefits you (by getting a better price), and the retailer (by getting more cash).

        Extending this to the real world, if you go to a sto
    • "Those savings will translate to lower prices for you."

      Are you really that naive?

      As a businessman, when you lower your cost base you *don't* cut your prices unless you have some cutthroat[1] competition who is already kicking your arse on price.

      [1] Pun intended.
    • by slashnik (181800) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:43AM (#6763110)
      It is not a simple case of removing the tag when you leave the store. These tags will be sewn behind labels and in seams.

      Some of the tags are read-write. What is written to the tag at the point of purchase is up to the retailer. Date sold, price paid, customer number (linked to credit records).

      In addition it is possible to not only identify the product number but also configure a serial number.

      So as you walk through the door of the store, You can be identified by your shoes and jacket. The store now that you only ever buy during the sale, you have a bad credit payment history and that you wareing your wife's underware.

      slashnik
    • by ozbon (99708)
      The issue with them is that they don't turn off - it's not just tracking you 'til you get home, but then every time you wear the item of clothing with the RFID. Washing them doesn't kill them, nor (if memory serves) do magnets.

      As an example, say you've bought a pair of trousers that have RFID in them. You pay by credit card (thus providing personal info on who owns that particular RFID) and walk home. If you go into another store that also has RFID readers, you can be tracked (I know this is slightly Big B
    • Using RFIDs will save billions of dollars a year. Those savings will translate to lower prices for you

      Ha ha ha ha ha, awww you're so sweet thinking those nice people at MegaCorp will pass on their savings to you, and not reinvest them in directors bonuses

      I think this is just another case of Luddites without anything better to do.

      Actually the Luddites wanted to work which is why they destroyed the machines which threatened their livelihoods.

  • Good on the Poms (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:05AM (#6762929)
    What an Englishman does in the privacy of his own Castle, is his own concern.
  • by nacturation (646836) <nacturation AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:06AM (#6762933) Journal
    Gillette is going to know where you shave in the morning?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:07AM (#6762938)
    RFID (Radio Frequency ID) tags
    Please stop expanding the acronym in this manner. RFID actually stands for "Really Fucking Intrusive Dongle." :)

    --
    Rate Naked People [fuckmeter.com] at Fuck Meter! (not work-safe)
  • by cliffy2000 (185461) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:13AM (#6762972) Journal
    Yeah... if you think Luddite ultra-right-wing militia men are paranoid right now, wait until RFID becomes widespread. UPC codes will become a relic of the past in their conspiracy theories.
  • by glassesmonkey (684291) * on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:17AM (#6762995) Homepage Journal
    Conductive ink on bendable material including printable, disposable antennas seem to be right around the corner. Here's a pdf from Rochester [rochester.edu] with all the chemistry that goes into making the substrates. And an article from Business 2.0 on Plastic transistors [business2.com] (Google cache) [216.239.57.104] and how they will change UPS tracking and WalMart's forever.

    The most interesting aspect for me is that these sensors (or even on-chip flash) will be powered and read in the presence of an RF field, like how most RFID tags work. We might one day have tons of passive sensors 'waiting' to be read with an active energy source.
  • camera (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shakeittotheright (700251) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:19AM (#6763012)
    the issue with this trial though was the fact it was linked to a CCTV camera which took pictures of your face when you picked up some razors, and then compared the image with your face at the checkout. that's taking things too far too soon surely? if they introduced the tags for stock-taking and basic security first, and then introduced cctv use later on etc, perhaps people would be more willing.

  • I can just see the next evolution in this will be to add rfid tags to the change they give you to track where you spend it.

    You can just see it can't you, after a couple of months every bank note will be as infested with these damn tags as a dog with fleas.

    • >I can just see the next evolution in this will be to add rfid tags
      >to the change they give you to track where you spend it.

      You're behind the times. The EU has already proposed adding RFIDs to large banknotes.
      http://www.silicon.com/news/500018/1/ 4 316.html
      A quote from the article: "RFID [radio frequency identification] tags also have the ability of recording information such as details of the transactions the paper note has been involved in. It would, therefore, also prevent money-laundering, make it
  • by Matrix2110 (190829) * on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:24AM (#6763031) Journal
    This RFID thing is a dead horse. Shoot it and get over it. Until large companies start getting the idea that most people prefer control over their privacy, these sorts of technology will be regulated to the military and the police.

    And boy, will they embrace it bigtime.

    And looking at the other side of the coin, how long before somebody creates a RFID zapper gun?

    *cough* Tesla *cough*

    Just my two cents.
    • Until large companies start getting the idea that most people prefer control over their privacy, these sorts of technology will be regulated to the military and the police.

      Yes, most people prefer control over their privacy to pathetic incentives to give it up. This is why the people of the United States, for instance, boldly boycotted a supermarket program to artificially inflate prices and only lower them back down through the use of "shopper cards" with customers' personal information attached that woul
  • Deactivating tags (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jeti (105266) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:26AM (#6763037) Homepage
    I dont get this:

    Because RFID tags contain intellectual property in the form of a computer chip, deactivating the tag would count as circumventing an intellectual property control measure, and so would be illegal under the IP Enforcement Directive.

    Isn't that like saying that breaking a CD in half is illegal because it also disables the copy protection?
  • from Rafsec's web http://www.rafsec.com/products/pallet_set.htm

    "Because Rafsec is a multi-protocol, multi-frequency supplier of RFID transponders, the Wooden Pallet Transponder can be used with any RFID technology, from low-cost read-only to higher-cost encrypted read-write memory."

    Say yes to RFIDs, but only if they are disabled after initial use. Passing the doors of the store could tell the RFID to stop responding.

  • Cambridge? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:26AM (#6763039)
    So Tesco decide to run a pilot in probably the most technologically-aware city in England, and are surpised when people protest?
  • Companies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by corgicorgi (692903)
    Who sells these tags?

    I read somewhere on the net these tags sell for around $.25 each for 1 billion or $0.05 for 10 billion. This is a huge market.

    Any knows any leading companies that sells these? I might consider buying their stocks.
  • by Kryptic Knight (96187) on Friday August 22, 2003 @04:38AM (#6763094)
    My local Boots (UK wide Chemists) has pulled most brands of blades from their shelving because of theft.

    At 6 for a pack of 4 or 5 blades you can see why they are trying to introduce tracking. In the meantime, if I want to purchase I have to go across to the perfumery counter (on the other side of the store) and ask for the item.

    Then I wander down to the checkout with them. ... hmm does anyone see the obvious glitch in their new security protocol?
  • I totally agree with this idea!!!

    See it like this, if it was to work it would work like this. When you go to product X which has a tag on it, there is a sign to tell you. You take the product in the knowledge you will be photographed. You are photographed, you pay for the product, the tag is disabled (by whatever device) and your picture is deleted.

    What the hell is wrong with that??!?! If you aren't going to steal the product who cares if your picture is on some database for 30mins while you shop. Pers
    • you're on someone else's property therefore they have the right to survalliance and to enfore security where needed

      I don't know which country you live in, but in most central and northen european coutries you would be wrong!

      Try opening a shop in Sweden and install videocameras that record, and then get your ass sued. Then you might see that just because you pay the rent for the space, you DON'T automatically have the right to do whatever you want, even if it is in regards to security and survalliance.
  • How big? (Score:4, Funny)

    by fuzzix (700457) on Friday August 22, 2003 @05:31AM (#6763245) Journal
    "in March, Benetton was also forced to announce it was not about to insert 15m RFID tags into its Sisley clothing range after an avalanche of consumer complaints"

    I think I might notice a 15 metre chip on my T-Shirt...
  • Very Interesting.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TygerFish (176957) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:08AM (#6763336)
    It's interesting to see people in England rejecting these things so quickly and so thoroughly. It leaves one to wonder how we will react to them if they are given a trial in the United States.

    After all, part of the mythos of our national character is that we are rugged individualists who only want to be left alone, but we regularly put up with the knowlege that various private and government agencies develop and deploy some of the most sophisticated intrusive security technologies in the world (e.g., public security cameras, biometrics, face recognition, gait recognition, cellular phone location, productivity logging etc, etc, ad nauseum...) and with that often in the pursuit of genuinely base motives.

    This raises a question: 'Which of our faces will we in the U.S. turn towards a technology that, for a brief interval at least, simply does away with the privacy inherent in the inability of anyone anywhere to know precisely where you are?'

    In one of the messages above, someone asked if there were any good uses for the technology and I think I can see the technology revolutionizing point-of-sale technologies for credit/debit card use; possibly reproducing the scenario in the speculative IBM commercial where someone shops in a supermarket by stuffing items in his coat and walking out of the place, only to be stopped by a security guard who reminds him to take the receipt for his purchases.

    Basically, if a system knows you are carrying x items of y value that belong to the store until you walk them past a point where their cost is deducted from your account, you can eliminate cashiers. Of course, what those girls who operate supermarket cash registers do with themselves after you do is anyone's guess.

    One more interesting thing is that these are electronic devices that have to send a signal in order to function: they have *got* be vulnerable to something.

    Perhaps part of your transaction in your point-of-sale system of the future could be frying the tags one the items to mark them as sold which would also take care of the paranoia problem.

    Before anyone mentions it: buying, selling or possessing any of the Russian or Taiwanese tag-zappers that would soon hit the market would be punishable by fine, imprisonment or both.

    Have a good one...

  • by talldark (76086) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:14AM (#6763357)
    I just read an article which states the European Central Bank are quietly planning on introducing RFID in all european bank notes by 2005. Bang goes the anonimity afforded by cash transactions.

    • I just read an article which states the European Central Bank are quietly planning on introducing RFID in all european bank notes by 2005. Bang goes the anonimity afforded by cash transactions.

      Why? The RFID tag is keyed to the money, not to you. I'd imagine the tag, if scanned, will respond that it's a 10-euro (or whatever), serial number BlahBlahBlah. It can't also respond "Psst! Hey, coppers! I'm being used to buy a dime bag!"...

  • by Gax (196168) on Friday August 22, 2003 @06:14AM (#6763358)
    ... Gillette pull RFID tags in UK after several cutting remarks.

    Thank you, thank you. I'm here to Monday.
  • by mnemonic_ (164550) <jamec.umich@edu> on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:16AM (#6763737) Homepage Journal
    As alarming as many of the recent seemingly "invasive" technologies are, the response to consumer anger from some of the organizations which employ those technologies has been a bit comforting. Before we have seen the termination of serial numbers on Pentium 3 CPU's, the removal of DRM in TurboTax software [extremetech.com] and even Microsoft allowing OEM's to omit product activation with WindowsXP [inquirerinside.com].

    All of these were the result of massive consumer backlash and lack of benefits for the producer. With Gillette's action added to this, it seems that Palladium/TCPA/etc. [cam.ac.uk] might not be in for a very warm reception, and possibly a very quick withdrawal. And it seems that some corporations care more about consumer feelings than it seems at first.
  • by TyrranzzX (617713) on Friday August 22, 2003 @08:46AM (#6763904) Journal
    It's a trust issue. We don't trust them to not use the data we give them and they gather against us and in ways we don't like.

    RFID, like any other tech, is generally designed to be useful. I actually like the idea of no checker, it saves me time and so long as I can still pay in cash and have a checker if I want, I'm happy. The checkers are replaced by fewer support personell, some of them are kept and the rest are put on either shelf duty or are fired, who can then in theory go and get a better edumication and help to build better systems such as space exploration vehicles or something of the like.

    The problem is that corperations are notoriously cheap and they'll do anything to cut costs, including genoside, slavery, extortion, election rigging, forcing workers in different countries to compete for who works for the lowest wages, etc.

    Do I want a bunch of criminals in wallmart knowing what I buy, where I live, etc? No. Any information they have is power over me and I don't trust them any more than I trust a mass murderer living next door.

    So, if they can earn my trust by not being cheap and BSing us about this, then mabye I wouldn't be up in arms. Although we all know where all this grand automation is going to land us if corperations have their way; the poor house. The IT technician that gets replaced by a foreign worker now works as a bagger at cub foods, who is replaced by a machine. They then goto starbucks, where the people there are replaced by machines that make coffie, they then goto work at burger king, where a fully automated system is setup to make everything. When robots become viable, they'll be stocking shelves for us. Where will all those jobs go and where will the money go? All the jobs go away, the systems are designed to support thousands of people but nobody has any money because there's no work to be had, and the work there is to be had pays so lousy that you can barely make a living.

    These people won't just die, they'll protest, violently and otherwise. They'll break into stores, people's houses, buy and steal weaponry and kill and plunder to get what they need. If the goverment does things like increase the vote percentage to get federal funding to %15 when Ralph nader gets %5 of the vote, you'd better believe they'll raise it to %30 when he gets %15, and 50% when he gets %30. What happens when he gets a vast majority? Lets just hope by then the corperations don't have a milita of their own that they can use to kill us all. I don't like how the next 10-20 years are looking at all.
  • by panic_smooth (679365) on Friday August 22, 2003 @09:16AM (#6764114)
    .. because i live in cambridge. the sainsbury's across town (a competitor, for all you non-UK types) does exactly the same trick to monitor the consumer but doesn't even try to conceal their efforts behind a chip. if you try to buy the same gillette blades there you have to physically explain to an actual person that you want the blades, that you're not going to nick them, that you might want specifically the gillette ones as opposed to some in-house crap, etc etc. so let's not get too excited about an invasion of privacy simply because it involves electronics. (yes i do realise that this is /., and no i don't work for tesco).
  • by ratfynk (456467) on Friday August 22, 2003 @10:14AM (#6764592) Journal
    Just think we can slip rfid into all SSN cards. Great, then have government employees war driving around doing a kind of wild life inventory. Welcome to 1984. Microsoft SECURE computing and total control of the population. Who cares about Charleton Heston, guns and other NRA nonsense. Freedom has become meaningless, if the Government no longer reflects the will of the people, then starts to take measures to monitor all individuals movement. Somehow I cannot see any American government going quite that far without very strict privacy legislation to make this sort of technology sensible. If we do not strictly regulate all usage of this tech there will be abuse. It is too much of a temptation for the control freak bureaucrats who hide behind the sceens and survive changes in polititions (J. Edgar types) to resist!
  • by Goldenhawk (242867) on Friday August 22, 2003 @10:29AM (#6764743) Homepage
    Imagine the fun...

    Walk into a department store someday soon, with a small foil pouch full of RFID tags stripped from popular and expensive items that you own and kept the receipts... maybe a few expensive watches, a couple fancy consumer electronics, etc... wander around the store for a half hour, hanging out near those shelves... being certain to handle some of those items suspiciously and having your picture taken by closed-caption cameras... take the tags out of the pouch... then walk out without going thru the registers.

    WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP the alarm sounds... you get arrested and searched for shoplifting... and upon proving that the tags are from objects you own and purchased, and with the help of the ACLJ or ACLU, you sue the store for false arrest and negligent use of their new fancy technology...

    *Smirk*...

    Even if you don't win any money, such tactics would certainly help push the careful use of RFID deactivation. Civil disobedience is likely to be a big problem for RFID promoters and marketers.
  • Over-the-top (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Friday August 22, 2003 @10:41AM (#6764841)
    This protest seems to me rather over the top, tinfoil helmet to me.

    Of course, if nobody does anything, RFIDs could be used to infring liberty.

    But what ills are not overcome by requiring that RFIDs should be clearly marked, and removable without damaging the goods to which they are attached. On items with packaging, such as the razors, they should be in the packaging. On items without packaging such as clothes, attache them with thos little plastic tags they already use for prices and useless information about the manufacturer.

    To police it, ensure that an inexpensive scanner is available which allows a domestic user to detect any RFIDs thay have not removed. The fine on the company in the event of infringing the above rules (i.e. putting hidden RFIDs im) to include an element of reward to the finder of the hidden ID of at least the cost of such a scanner.

    If you then remove all IDs when you get home - no more onerous than unpacking and removing those tags, then the only time the shop knows about them is as you leave for the first time. If you paid for them, they know that from the checkout. If you didn't, then presumably you are stealing them and deserve what happens to you.

    This doesn't require wholesale observance to make it destroy the effective use to infringe privacy impossible. If more people than not remove the RFIDs (as they would) the residual information becomes effectively useless.

    Of course, the CIA could always attach an RFID to your backside and track you wherever - but no law or consumer protest is going to stop that.

    If it works, it could allow shops to cut losses by (say) 5%. If the marketplace works, this should cut end user prices by (say) 4.95%. Which may not sound be much, but if I got a 5% pay rise today (which is the same thing), I would go home happy.
  • by gerardrj (207690) * on Friday August 22, 2003 @11:37AM (#6765401) Journal
    This is now the severalth (sure, that's a word, isn't it)story about RFID tags used in general consumer merchandise. Most all reactions I've seen are negativbe toward this use. Most seem to cite a fear of being tracked or having their purchased remembered by the retailer.

    Let me start by laying out what I know about RFID chips/tags:
    1. they have a transmission range measured in inches, to a maximum of a few feet
    2. they require a specialized unit to send out the RF pulse that "activates" and reads the tag
    3. the information stored in them is generally programmed at manufacture. (there are r/w tags, but they seem about as useful as putting the bar-code or price on a label with a pencil)
    4. reading the RFIDs in bulk is a tenuous affair at best and certainly expensive.

    Specifically regarding #1, I can't locate any exact numbers for range, all the companies just say "short, medium or long" range. But the examples they give seem to represent that even "long range" is highly relative and still means only 2 to 4 feet, perhaps as much as 10 feet. In a retail situation the range would probably need to be two feet or less.

    So given that information, I can't begin to figure out what everyone is so upset about regarding the use of RFIDs in retail items. They don't enable anything you can't do already, they just make it faster and more reliable. They don't store any personal information, they can't be read in bulk from any significant distance.

    What do these tags represent that is so heinous that public demonstrations are called for to prevent their use?

    This will be the third (I recall) time I've tried to have a reasonable discussion about this, and am hoping this time I'll get something more than FUD back. Please state your reasons in a clear, legible hand. I promise to read them all . The winner wil go back to K-PAX with me.
  • Hooray! (Score:4, Informative)

    by El Camino SS (264212) on Friday August 22, 2003 @12:52PM (#6766301)

    I can see where all of this is going. This truly is heading to the mall scene in Minority Report.

    BUT IT JUST GETS EVEN WORSE...

    So you walk past a sensor in the mall wearing a pair of jeans with a RFID so small that you can't find it and never will, and all of the sudden you have an ad popping up for whatever market they sell your jeans to.

    Better yet, when someone commits a heinous crime in that mall, a lot of sensors will have a record of the type of jeans and shirt anyone, including a criminal was wearing leaving a crime scene. HOW WONDERFUL! Imagine what happens when you are in the neighborhood wearing the same or similar tennis shoes and jeans combo! Regardless of who you are, the cops are going to come and question you! Probably take you downtown for a little questioning. Screw with your life for a bit. Shake you around. INSTANT PROBABLE CAUSE... after all "he was in the same area a few days later wearing the same type of jeans and shoes, your honor. And we have a homicide that is unsolved in the area."

    Suddenly, you get busted for a crime you didn't commit!

    You may call me a paranoiac but remember all of those people that have been in prison all of those years that have DNA evidence that conclusively proves that they weren't rapists. Trust me, there is nothing out of bounds that a cop will use to solve a murder case. NOTHING. That is not what a cop does. A cop hunts out crime. If he slaps cuffs on the wrong man, well, that is the court's responsibility to make sure it was the wrong guy, not the cop's responsibility. Also, cops do a little game called "courting you to death," like if you piss them off giving you a court summons (costing you hundreds of dollars) for a parking ticket, and messing with your life in a court appearance. You really don't want to defend yourself in a 'you vs. the cop' situation. It never, ever works. Most are good, but jerks are the ones that give me the willies.

    Remember when cops were using thermal imaging guns to look into people's houses and checking electric bills to see if they were creating illegal grow operations? Think about it. THIS IS PROFILING HEAVEN. MORE DATA MEANS MORE PROFILING. The best part, you can't find out that they are profiling you. The cops pull you over for a bad turn signal, when all the while they are looking for a couple of key things, like the perfectly legal ammo you just bought at the gun store to take back to your ranch. Argue with them? GO TO JAIL. OR GO TO COURT AND PAY COSTS AND WASTE YOUR TIME.

    It is not a matter of if this technology will be abused, it is simply a matter of when. You should look at history to see that. Evidence of it is everywhere even in the most polite societies.

    How soon will it be after this stuff that some corporation starts walking people through your neighborhood with directional transmitters and antennas, and when you buy a Papa John's pizza, the next two days a Pizza Hut coupon is pinned to your front door or comes in your mailbox? Corporations are are not going to worry about the ethics of what they are doing. They are simply going to do them to sell you more pizza near their store to cut costs and sell more. It is now just going to make this world full of PHYSICAL SPAM.

    Trust me, when the person in the mall with the clipboard seeks you out and says that she has a product that is better than the one you just purchased and is sitting in your bag, YOU'LL HATE IT. Either way, they'll be grifting your data... and you'll be paying for it.

    If you hate it when Radio Shack asks you your fucking address when you buy a coax cable, then you'll really, really love what is around the corner.

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