Opponents Rip RFID Jeans
By George Anderson
Those opposed to the use of item-level radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are unhappy with Levi Strauss’s confirmation that the company is doing a single-store test in the U.S. of the technology focused on inventory management. The company has also tested item-level tagging of its merchandise in two stores in Mexico.
Jeffrey Beckman, a spokesperson for Levi Strauss & Co., said, “The tags have information similar to bar codes, such as product, style, size and color. Having this information will allow the retail store to replenish stock quickly, so customers are frustrating when they can’t find the style and size. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Alastair McArthur, chief technology officer at TAGSYS, said other companies in the apparel space are either currently working with individual item tagging or developing RFID programs on this level.
“Some industries gaining traction are fashion textile and luxury goods,” he told ITnews.com out of Australia. “These are areas where item-level tagging has begun, and will continue to increase much quicker than in supermarkets to tag, for example, peanut butter.”
Opponents of RFID technology, such as Katherine Albrecht, said Levi Strauss’ test is a violation of a call by 40 leading privacy and civil liberties organizations “for a moratorium on chipping individual consumer items because the technology can be used to track people without their knowledge or consent.”
Levi Strauss’ failure to disclose where the test is taking place, RFID opponents assert, is an indication that the company fears a backlash from consumers.
Moderator’s Comment: How far away from widespread use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on an item-level basis are retail sectors, such as
apparel, consumer electronics and luxury goods? – George Anderson