There are now some reports about Marks & Spencer's RFID tagging trial:
Marks & Spencer seem to have tentatively launched their promised RFID tagging trial at their High Wycombe store.
Unlike, Tesco, they do seem to be planning to at least give their customers a leaflet about the trial. The tags will not be embedded into the clothing (suits, ties and shirts) but will either be on a paper label (separate from the barcoded price tag) attached to the suit or tie, or stuck to the plastic packaging of the shirts.
However, these RFID tags are still not in accordance with the supposed Auto-ID EPC tags which are meant to have the ability to be "killed" or disabled at the point of sale, which these do not.
The effective normal working range of these M&S RFID tags will be much greater than those used (without any privacy problems) on reusable plastic food product delivery trays, as they will be working in the Ultra High Frequency range (somewhere above 868Mhz).
Given the public relations silence on the topic so far, it must be assumed that this latest M&S RFID tag trial still does not seem to comply with the Auto-ID Center's idea of a tag that can be "killed" or disabled electronically at the checkout, and that there is no strong authentication handshake which would allow only M&S RFID readers to interrogate them.
As the unit price of RFID tags falls towards the target of under a penny each,
unless automatic systems for "killing" tags at the checkout are developed and tested at the outset, some accountant or manager will award themselves a bonus when they calculate that it will cost more in checkout staff time or customer queues at peak times, to "kill" a tag than to buy a new one. They will then try not to bother with tags that can be "killed" or will "save" on the equipment needed to do so, to the detriment of consumer privacy.
Therefore, even though this M&S trial is no real threat in itself at the moment, our RFID tag privacy concerns (similar to those over "third party cookie tracking" profiles compiled from internet web site surfing) still remain.