AOH :: PT-1238.HTM

Mini-debate on Wal-Mart and RFID: good or evil?

Mini-debate on Wal-Mart and RFID: good or evil?
Mini-debate on Wal-Mart and RFID: good or evil?



Original RFID protester post:
http://www.politechbot.com/2005/11/09/jim-harper-on/ 
Jim Harper's reply:
http://www.politechbot.com/2005/11/09/rfid-protesters-target/ 

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: [Politech] RFID protesters target Wal-Mart, demand new 
laws	and regulations [priv]
Date: Wed, 09 Nov 2005 12:30:31 -0500
From: Katherine Albrecht  
To: Jim Harper  
CC: Declan McCullagh  
References: <0A1602CE917AD6499B8C85E3C68F5564019F3202@exchange.cato.org> 

Jim:

We are not protesting the use of RFID on "pallets and cartons" as you
suggest, but the use of _item-level tagging_ in Wal-Mart stores. There's
a world of difference.

-Katherine Albrecht





-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: [Politech] RFID protesters target Wal-Mart, demand new 
lawsand regulations [priv]
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 12:36:10 -0500
From: Jim Harper  
To: Katherine Albrecht  
CC: Declan McCullagh  

"In New Hampshire we live free. We don't want R-F-I-D!" doesn't really 
get that across.

Jim







-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: [Politech] Jim Harper on how anti-RFID'ers harm immigrants, 
the poor (and public libraries) [priv]
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 13:00:54 -0500
From: Richard M. Smith  
To: 'Declan McCullagh' ,  

Library books that are bugged with RFID chips never seemed like that much of
problem to me.  After all, most of the time library books are taken home and
there aren't too many places that they can be scanned.

However, much more interesting is library cards that are bugged.  Are any
libraries planning to use RFID chips in library cards?

Richard






-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Library/bookstore uses of RFID
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 10:37:04 -0800 (PST)
From: Dan Fingerman  
To: Declan McCullagh  
References: <43723425.90404@well.com> 

On Wed, November 9, 2005 9:38 am, Declan McCullagh said:
 >
 > I also received a message from a library director at a public
 > library that I've been asked not to post verbatim. To summarize
 > it, they're planning to replace bar code and security tags with
 > RFID tags within the next three years. That will let librarians
 > check out a pile of books without opening each one -- and also
 > put a scanner in the book return slot too.
 > One huge benefit is to staff ergonomics (that's a lot of book
 > handling eliminated). [...]

There is a privacy and First Amendment benefit associated with this kind of
RFID application that I do not recall being discussed here.

When a library or bookstore must scan a bar code on each item checked out or
sold, the checker must physically handle the item -- meaning that he can see
what books that customer is reading.  With RFID tags, if many items can be
scanned together (without the need for physical handling of each individual
item), the checker does not see that person's reading habits.  Items 
could be
scanned together in a stack or enclosed in a shopping bag.  The computer at
the checkout station could be programed to display only the unique number
associated with each item -- but not such information as title or author.

This kind of application has obvious privacy implications, and it can also
help people exercise their First Amendment rights to read what they 
please --
where they might otherwise be embarrassed to check out certain books 
that are
politically or socially disfavored.  Similar reasoning applies to other 
retail
scenarios, where certain types of products are politically or socially
disfavored (e.g., alcohol and cigarettes).

-- 
DTM :<|
www.danfingerman.com 





-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [Politech] Jim Harper on how anti-RFID'ers harm 
immigrants, the poor (and public libraries) [priv]
Date: Wed, 09 Nov 2005 11:13:29 -0800
From: Ross Stapleton-Gray  
To: Declan McCullagh , politech@politechbot.com 
CC: Jim Harper ,  
References: <43723425.90404@well.com> 

At some point before 09:38 AM 11/9/2005, Jim Harper wrote:
 >I don't think picketing in front of a store that uses RFID on pallets and
 >cartons helps the process very much.  It probably does chill the supply
 >chain efforts that would make immigrants and the poor just a little bit
 >better off.

This is a complete nonsequitur.  There is no evidence that squeezing down
costs in supply chain will have any consequence to the lot of immigrants
and the poor; there's some cause to believe it might make their lives
worse, frankly, through further lowering required worker expertise (not in
and of itself a problem, "making things simpler" might be good), with no
guarantee that the savings accrue to anyone but parties like big-box
retailers, who're driving both consumer costs *and* wages paid in a
downward spiral.  Perhaps Jim has seen the agreement where retailers have
pledged to dedicate much of the savings to pay for increased employee
health benefits; I have not.

 >Just yesterday, I read about another of dozens of such innovations, an
 >antenna that can be shortened by the consumer to correspondingly shorten
 >the read range.
>http://www1.rfidjournal.com/article/view/1972/ 
 >
 >Each such alternative has its benefits and drawbacks and I won't predict
 >the appropriate design for each potential use of RFID. A variety of
 >factors will influence it.

If end consumers can shorten antennas, then presumably so can shoplifters
and sticky-fingered employees; RFID as anti-theft technology becomes a
rather shaky premise.  I think there are a lot of readily visible benefits
to deploying RFID in *parts* of supply chain, in particular to the fairly
trusted exchange between established trading partners, and in
intracorporate tracking and inventory, but I become increasingly skeptical
when it hits the "real world" of the store floor, and after, where there
are 3rd parties with other interests (if only to shuffle store aisles
around to "look nice," notwithstanding where the engineers placed
readers... "Hey, let's stack the tin foil over here..."), including
competitors, and collectors of information for everything from direct
marketing to litigation.

We've just put out a white paper on some models for how RFID might evolve
as a tool for surveillance (in the broadest sense of that word, not just
"spying on people for no good"), given the promiscuous nature of
readers/writers, and anticipating tipping points when enough of both get
deployed: http://www.stapleton-gray.com/papers/scenarios.pdf 

Ross






-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: [Politech] Jim Harper on how anti-RFID'ers harm 
immigrants, the poor (and public libraries) [priv]
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 14:27:02 -0500
From: Jim Harper  
To: Ross Stapleton-Gray , Declan 
McCullagh  
CC:  

If I was unclear, I was talking about consumers as purchasers of 
products.  I think it's pretty widely accepted that supply chain 
efficiencies in our competitive retail sector will lower prices charged 
to consumers.  If you disagree with this premise, I hope you can explain 
why the insert in the Sunday paper features the prices of goods so 
prominently.  That's strong inductive evidence that there is price 
competition.

And, alas, today is not the day for me to entertain an all-things-RFID 
debate.

Thanks, though, Ross.

Jim





-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: [Politech] Jim Harper on how anti-RFID'ers harm 
immigrants, the poor (and public libraries) [priv]
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 15:00:40 -0500
From: ross@stapleton-gray.com  
Reply-To: ross@stapleton-gray.com 
To: jharper@cato.org, declan@well.com, kma@nocards.org 

Jim Harper jharper@cato.org said: 
 > If I was unclear, I was talking about consumers as purchasers of
products.  I think
 > it's pretty widely accepted that supply chain efficiencies in our
competitive retail
 > sector will lower prices charged to consumers.

though your original comment was that:
 > It probably does chill the supply chain efforts that would make
immigrants and the
 > poor just a little bit better off.

So perhaps it's just "immigrants" that's the non sequitur... presumably
poor immigrants cheered by low prices could be more simply classified as
"the poor;" while richer immigrants might enjoy being "just a little bit
better off," wouldn't we all?

But "lower prices means we're all better off" just doesn't fly, given that
a component of these price reductions is wage/employment reduction, etc.,
meaning that some folks are paying less for (some) cheaper goods (health
care costs not sinking anywhere I've looked), on smaller salaries.

But why "immigrants," specifically?  That's an interesting inclusion.

Ross




-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [IP] Jim Harper on how anti-RFID'ers harm immigrants, the 
poor (and public libraries) [priv]
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2005 13:50:18 -0800
From: Bradley Roberts  
To: David Farber , Declan McCullagh  
References: <43723425.90404@well.com> 
<32F4ADEF-D848-4B2B-867A-5AE47F771DF9@farber.net> 

Seattle Public Library system implemented RFID for all books and
media over the new year this year, after several months of attaching
the chips to each book.  Ultimately they closed down for a few days
to complete the transition and started back up with no noticeable
problems (as a patron).  Now many branches allow you to check books
out yourself which is turning into a huge time saver.  The rfid chip
contains a number and that's about it - no concerns of privacy
because if you can't see it visually you don't know what the number
is for, and if you can see it then you know what the book is already.
The closest thing to a privacy concern has to do with the
self-checkout screens being visible to all people standing around and
looking at what you're checking out.

Overall, a great system and implementation.



  --------
Subject: Re: [Politech] Jim Harper on how anti-RFID'ers harm immigrants, 
the poor (and public libraries) [priv]
Date: Wed, 09 Nov 2005 14:49:54 -0500
From: Ben  
To: Declan McCullagh  
References: <43723425.90404@well.com> 

My feeling, regardless of the debate over support or regulation, is that
you can't stop technological innovation. RFID's, or another form of
convenient remote tracking and identification, will sooner or later
become ubiquitous. The benefits are too large and enticing. Even parents
who want to track their children 24/7 are going to get what they want,
because they're a large market. Where I wish the debate and activism
were directed is towards creating the certainty that we'll always know
the code used for the technology inside-out, and that no one is going to
use RFID tech domestically and be protected from any insights and
oversights.

Let me give an example. As this techology spreads and becomes even
cheaper to use, it's absolutely inevitable that one day every sensitive
document created in the private sectory and the Government will be
tracked, uniquely ID'ed, and *unleakable*. Can you imagine that? Just
try. Try to imagine.......no evidence, no proof from any whistleblower,
no story for any reporter. That's where we're going, and let's get real;
the Government knows that.......aspiring CEO's at your various Monsantos
and Enrons know that. So, that too is really another reason why it can't
be stopped. What can be changed though is the nature of the thing. If it
can be made common knowledge -- completely transparent -- then when it
suits the public interest your Deep Throats and your muckrakers know how
to make a few pages disappear.

-Ben



---------
From: anonymous

Declan McCullagh wrote:

 > I wrote in a column two years ago that there can be some privacy
 > concerns with RFID tags on the packaging of products that customers
 > take home with them:
> http://news.com.com/2010-1069-980325.html 
 >
 > But do we really need more laws and regulations? Sure, they'll start
 > at labeling. But over time politicians and bureaucrats will have an
 > incentive to set standards, hold hearings, complain about business
 > practices, and perhaps even set up some FCC-like agency that will
 > discourage investment in the many _good_ uses of RFID.
 >
 > The anti-RFID'ers are also prone to anti-technology hysteria:
 > 
http://spychips.com/protest/walmart/spychip-slideshow/pages/rfid-reader-vortex.html 

 >
 >
 > It seems to me that Wal-Mart shoppers aren't idiots. They rationally
 > shop there because the prices are low. If they don't like RFID tags on
 > the boxes of an HP printer, well, they'll throw the box away. Or take
 > their business to Costco instead.

1) Have you ever been in a Wal-Mart?  They are idiots.

2) In many markets the Wal-Mart is the only accessable option.  This is,
to some degree, a result of item 1.  People only think about five
minutes into the future and the decision to purchase a shovel at
Wal-Mart instead of at the 50 year old family run hardware store in the
same town for a couple dollars more looks appealing in the short term.
However, once that hardware store shuts down and they have to drive an
hour or more (as is the case in the area my families farm is located) to
get an item that Wal-Mart doesn't carry it is less clear that couple
dollars saved on the shovel was well earned.  And, of course the family
owned shop was paying a living wage to the family that owned it.

In the areas that there really is competition among equals things are a
little better.  While in the city I not only shop at Costco, but am also
a shareholder for exactly these kinds of reasons.  But let's not confuse
the libertarian fantasy that the customer is educated and doing business
to his or her own best benefit with the pragmatic reality that no one,
no matter their smarts, has the ability to make educated purchasing
decisions in most instances.  Wal-Mart makes billions of dollars because
of this.

Please feel free to publish this missive if you like, but without
attribution.


_______________________________________________
Politech mailing list
Archived at http://www.politechbot.com/ 
Moderated by Declan McCullagh (http://www.mccullagh.org/) 


Make REAL money with your website!

The entire AOH site is optimized to look best in Firefox® 2.0 on a widescreen monitor (1440x900 or better).
Site design & layout copyright © 1986-2014 AOH
We do not send spam. If you have received spam bearing an artofhacking.com email address, please forward it with full headers to abuse@artofhacking.com.