Nonsense about RFID tags in Benetton's fashions

RFID tags in Benetton clothing. Benetton is buying 15 million RFID (radio frequency identification) tags to attach to the labels in their clothing as an anti-theft measure. People are freaked out (again) about privacy issues, but the reality (at least today) is that the range of RFID tech is too short for someone to drive by your house and scan your closet. Still, it does make sense to zap the tags out of commission once items are paid for. Link Discuss [Boing Boing Blog]

Yet another example of magical thinking and technological ignorance driving debates. This post is about the only one I’ve seen out of dozens that points out that everyone’s fears are based on false assumptions about the technology. So, for example, we see this kind of nonsense quoted in a Wired News piece on the issue [by way of Privacy Digest]:

Mike Liard, an analyst with technology research and consulting firm Venture Development, said the more companies that embed RFID tags in their products, the more likely it is for someone to drive by a home and say, “Look what we’ve got in there. An HDTV is in there, and she wears Benetton.”

It wouldn’t surprise me if some marketing analyst would like to do this. It also wouldn’t surprise me if some unscrupulous technology consultant would take their money without bothering to explain that the range of RFID scanners is on the order of 2 meters. But that doesn’t make the actual prospect of black vans roaming the suburbs any more likely or any more feasible. If it still bothers you, line your closets with aluminum foil, but wouldn’t it be easier to develop a shred of understanding about what is and isn’t technologically possible?