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back to article American Apparel's tags start tracking your pants

Iconic clothing store American Apparel is to start putting radio tags into every item of clothing, tracking it from factory to stockroom to store shelf and possibly beyond. The company has been trialling RFID tags at its New York story for the last few months, attaching tags as items arrived at the store and removing them for re …

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Alert

automated alerts!

AUTOMATED ALERT: The guy that bought them awful green and white striped trousers last week has just walked back in to the store ... see what else you can flog him.

-OR-

The stock level has just increased by 1 (re entering store at a later point weeks after buying said goods).

Oh, nope it's now gone down again.

Just think of the fun sales staff can have!

The guy with loadsa money is back in the store wearing his new jacket, quick, get some sales staff around him!

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Linux

Great

How long before some facist pig in gov't decides to use this so they can keep track of people using some law designed to protect the people like the Patriot Act.

It is amazing how close we are getting to a Gattaca/1984 style of world/life.

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Anonymous Coward

Not new

Marks & Spencer have been using them for a while now in UK. It's called SmartTag or something.

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Black Helicopters

EULA for your trousers

We all knew this was the direction things were going - convenience is just as potent an erosion of privacy as government fiat. By putting RFID tags rather than bar codes onto supermarket products, we would have the "convenience" of avoiding the checkout - just push your trolley through an RFID proximity scanner and the money just flies off your credit card. Then you have the RFID enabled fridge, which is programmed to order more beer when your stock gets below a certain level - or the RFID enabled dustbin/recycling box, which blabs if you put a beer bottle in the wrong bin.

Returning to the case in point, once your trousers (I assume the pants in the article's title are trousers, not shreddies) are RFID tagged, clothing shops can move to protect their Imaginary Property. They might, for example, ban you from putting them in a jumble sale. Or they might require you to wear them with some other item, flagging up if the tag of one is seen without the other. Sounds far fetched? So did biometric passports 15 years ago. There could be a genuine fashion police, enforcing the EULA on your kecks ("Excuse me sir, do you have a licence for those trousers?")

This is the reality of the world we have created.

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Black Helicopters

How to avoid being tracked

Pay with cash.

Wear a ski mask / motorcycle helmet

Buy used from thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets

Buy online via an anonymiser (limited success)

ship to a PO Box, not to home address

Change PO Boxes regularly

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Stop

@AC

"Wear a ski mask / motorcycle helmet"

This is a really really bad idea... As in really bad...

Walked into local post office (yes there still are some) a few months ago, the old dear behind the glass almost had a heart attack...

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Black Helicopters

@How to avoid being tracked

"Pay with cash" - fair enough, for now.

"Wear a ski mask/motorcycle helmet" - try doing that without getting shown the door/arrested.

"Buy used from thrift stores" - Kind of gross, and who's to say RFID won't follow you there eventually?

"Buy online via an anonymiser" - as you say yourself, you're going to have limited success, and its almost impossible to not leave an audit trail when buying goods online, certainly not legitimate physical goods anyway.

"Ship to a PO Box" - most online fraud check scores will fail you. Not all, but most.

Pay by cash and wear a baseball cap are probably the best and most inconspicuous bets for buying stuff if you're of an overly paranoid bent.

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Pirate

Homemade RFID Immobiliser

Put your trousers in the microwave for a few minutes on full bore. I'd have confidence that they're not going to be tracked again.

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Joke

Demonstralism

"Walked into local post office (yes there still are some) a few months ago, the old dear behind the glass almost had a heart attack..."

That wasn't because a customer came in wearing a helmet, that was because a customer came in. Local post offices are for protesting in favour of, not for actually using.

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Alert

Calling all paranoid fantasists - this is your cue:

RFID tags, oh dear, here we go again. What’s it to be this time then?

End of the world?

End of life as we know it?

1984 all over again?

Global Conspiracy?

Government Conspiracy?

Corporate Conspiracy?

Trade Union Conspiracy

Catholic Conspiracy?

Council Conspiracy?

Jewish Conspiracy?

Fascist Dictatorship?

Military Coup?

Police State?

Freemasons?

Steve Jobs?

Bill Gates?

Retail efficiency?

Oops, sorry about the last one, how far fetched is that?

I would advise the following precautionary measure be adopted before anyone starts posting their rant: take a large square of silver foil, shape it into a half sphere, place it over your head and start wearing a false beard and sunglasses – after all, you can never be too sure.

Thank god we know where to find most of the UK’s moron quotient – they largely work in IT!

Get a grip people!

P.S.: The Holocaust never happened, no-ones ever been to the moon, the CIA killed JFK, Dr King, Gandhi, Oliver Cromwell and Diana (oops, sorry that was Phil the Greek), Terrorism’s just a media myth, Evolution’s just a theory and Robert Mugabe is an enlightened statesman.

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Paris Hilton

@Rich

Hmm, I never thought I'd have a use for the phrase "fly-zip lightning storm", but that's El Reg comments for you.

Paris, because of the obvious scorched crotch connection.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC-Calling all paranoid fantasists

In Germany, you would go to jail, for your comment.

Just to make sure that nobody believes what you write.

(They would not care whether it was sarcasm ..)

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Re: @How to avoid being tracked

""Wear a ski mask/motorcycle helmet" - try doing that without getting shown the door/arrested."

And yet we are forced to tolerate people wearing a full length burka.

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Black Helicopters

@ Calling all paranoid fantasists

Funny how someone calling people that want to protect their privacy idiots is posting anonymously. Pot, meet kettle.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Post-purchasing tracking

It's only a matter of time before the first store leaves the tags activated. To 'enhance the shopping experience' and all that.

And since leaving the tags active will prolly play merry hell with security sensors in this (and maybe any other store that carries the item), I suspect it will be a very short time before the same marketing wizards proclaim 'we listened to our customers' and start deactivating the tags again.

Nothing enhances a shopping experience quite like being detained under suspicion of shoplifting. It's a toss-up between which is more odious: the in-store music or the constant drone of security klaxon.

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Happy

@ FOOF - Calling all paranoid fantasists

When it occurred to me that you might not have intended to sound ironic your comment actually made me laugh out loud.

So FOOF’s your real name then?

In any meaningful way how is posting ‘AC’ any less anonymous than calling yourself Foof, Spleen, TeeCee or indeed Reid Malenfant etc?

Maybe somewhere there really is a guy called Webster Freaky but I doubt he’s the plank that keeps posting here.

AFAIC I actually think that the AC in question makes a very good point – indeed I’m wearing the foil headdress even as we speak.

Though I wouldn’t go so far as calling everyone in IT morons …… blinkered muppets perhaps but definitely not morons!

Now where are the aptly named Tonto Popaduopolos and Alf Hooker when you want them? I'd love to hear they're take on this.

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Gates Horns

Number of the bollocks

Permanent tags were demonstrated over 2 years ago at various vendor tech conventions despite denial by the porkers in the RFID industry.

This kind of thing should be dealt with by law forcing clear warning and by making these things removable by the customer immeadiately.

If out politicians still can't enforce the is then they should no longer be in power.

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Pirate

RFID & PHORM

I am thinking of setting up a few RFID detectors around the city. Link them into a centralised system and we can track you and your purchases in real-time and work out your shopping habits... Then we can have a man run out in-front of you with products you would prefer because we know you bought similar items before. PHORM for the real-world.

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Coat

All you tags are belong to us

How many times have you left the store and set off the (conventional) security detectors even though you've paid and had the tags "deactivated"? By that token, some RFIDs will still be live upon departure and cause merry havoc walking back in later...

But here's a way to have fun with it at home- all you require is your socks and undies tagged, then install a sensor at your front door: Beep! Beep! You Have Worn Those Underpants Three Days In A Row! You Are At Risk of Jock Rot! Beep! Beep! You Have Mismatched Socks! Please Return To Your Bedroom To Change! Beep! Beep! Your Lost Sock Is Located Under Your Bed! Your Cat Is In The Scotch Chest, Third Drawer Down!

Has anybody got a handheld RFID scanner? I can't seem to find my coat...

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Black Helicopters

@How to avoid being tracked

don't forget every cash note has an individual serial number...

i vaguely remember talk of equipment in ATM's to scan the serial number on each note issued, and record it against the account used....

wonder how long before there's an actual ID chip in each note, and gov't regulations - to fight the funding of terrorism of course - requiring all cash registers to scan and record the numbers (as per credit cards).

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Thumb Up

If youv'e got nothing to hide....

...you will wear your trousers proudly where ever you go.

(But not to the annual socialist revolutionaries meeting - obviously)

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Stop

Now you can be tracked by the Gov you know love and trust...

I can't wait until the Readers are built into every doorway. You can feel confident that where ever you go the national shared data bases between companies and gov will always have a record of your travels. Ummm don't donate your clothes or toss'em. Some homeless drug addict may hold up a quicky mart with them on. I could ruin your whole day... Of course Gov bureaucrats never have been known to just mindlessly follow procedures now have they...?

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@Moss Icely Spaceport

If you've nothing to hide, why wear trousers ?? If you got em, flaunt em !! Having said that, there is a significant (and rising) proportion of the population that make beached whales look sexy !! Perhaps they should be forced to wear canvas tents to spare the rest of us some ghastly sights !!

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@ If you've got nothing to hide

Why wear trousers at all?

I favour the moleskin codpiece. I was going to say that it is not big enough to secrete such a tag but that might give the wrong impression!

I keep my Tesco Visa chip and pin card safely in a lead lined box so that my route through their shop cannot be traced. I then pay cash, in Euros, and affect a foreign accent thus confusing my identity further. You know it makes sense.

AC - As for '1984 all over again'. Have the Eurythmics re-released said album?

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I'm paranoid, but don't see the big deal about RFID

RFID is just a fancy barcode, the chips don't contain any real information, just a serial number which can be read from distances at which you're visible through line of sight anyway.

I'm firmly against erosion of civil liberties and things like pervasive CCTV, but I don't really see what the big deal is about RFID.

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Paranoia here we all are

There would appear to be a certain amount of paranoia here.

Who said that!

Is it the state watching or is it something in my trousers?

Surely if you are that scared of a certain type of RFID trousers then dont purchase them, easy when you think about it.

@ FOOF - Calling all paranoid fantasists

Mr Foof (nice nom de plume), what is your real name, your comments mean you will happily print your correct title, if Foff is your real name, i feel sorry for you, consider deed poll.

Reid Malenfant

Wise words great mate, dont worry about the 'if you were in Germany' quote by 'AC', (Yes another AC for you to whine on about Mr (or Mrs) Foof), cant imagine a person with a name like yours in leather trousers, slapping you thighs and drinking vast amounts of yellow beer from a mug with a lid on it, just dont go to Germany.

Tonto Popaduopolos

Foofs (Mr / Mrs / Monsieur?), will hate you more than everyone, top name though. Keep wearing the moleskin codpiece, i prefer mine to be made from scotchbrite.Nice.

@How to avoid being tracked by Argus Tuft,

You will be hated a close second by Foofs (Mde / Senorita?),Tonto just has it for me.

Dont use money or credit cards mate, your paranoid ideals will overtake you very quickly !!

I'm off now to think of a really good name to call myself.

All those worried about RFID should wear tin foil pants, not to stop any details escaping, but to catch the mess when you shit yourself everytime you think about the tracking in your strides.

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Boffin

@ Gareth - I'm paranoid, but don't see the big deal about RFID

You are absolutely right. RFID was originally conceived as a slightly more remotely accessible barcode intended for fast asset tracking in warehouses and distribution. And provided that it remains equivalent to a simple 1D barcode (Code 29, UPC-A, EAN-8 etc) it is totally benign.

In fact it was the above imperative that, for many years, was a primary driving force behind the development of 802.11wireless networking; companies like Symbol Technologies (now Motorola) and Cisco invested huge amounts of capital in developing the industry strength networking that permeates the entire global food distribution system (using both barcode and RFID). It’s the only way in which supermarkets can maintain their precise balancing act between full shelves and limited on-site warehousing.

The future COMMERCIAL use of RFID will depend, as ever, upon the development of increasingly smarter RFID data storage. 2D barcodes (PDF-417) can already encode prodigious data, including certain biometrics, in a simple and durable form factor. The WIDESPREAD adoption of an RFID equivalent may inadvertently produce something potentially far more sinister. However, I will continue confine my concerns to real-world practical applications not in any hypothetical flights of impractical fantasy.

Incidentally, some UK Police Forces already use PDF-417’s on their Warrant Cards as a means of limited verification internal ID; though none of them use it to its full potential. Other than the HOSDB (whose experience in many areas remains strictly limited), Police Forces don’t have any meaningful R&D and, just like the CPS, civilian Police IT staff are paid peanuts - and we all know that’s the best way to attract monkeys.

Ah, Tonto and Alf, I knew you guys wouldn't disappoint.

…… and Tonto, I've been meaning to ask: who WAS that masked man?

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