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Walmart to add RFID tags to individual items, freak out privacy advocates

Darren Murph
07.26.10
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Walmart's been pushing RFID for years now, using it to better manage the company's vast inventories and understand where products are and how fast they're approaching. Now, the mega-retailer is about to take things to another level, and it just might push competitors into getting with the program. As of now, there's limited consumer-facing benefit to tracking pallets in transit, but a Wall Street Journal report suggests that Wally World will be placing radio-frequency ID tags on individual clothes. The initiative is slated to kick off next month, and it's expected to help apparel managers know when certain sizes and colors are depleted and need to be restocked. In theory, having this ability will ensure that consumers never see their desired size or hue as sold out, and if the clothing trial is successful, the tags could be rolled out to a near-infinite amount of kit. Of course, privacy advocates are all wound up about the idea, though it seems as if most sniffing concerns could be dealt with if the tags were removed as customers departed the store. Unless you're leaving in a hurry, that is...

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