Wal-Mart to use smart tags on clothing to track inventory, but move raises privacy worries

By Anne Dinnocenzio, AP
Friday, July 23, 2010

Wal-Mart to roll out smart tags to track clothing

NEW YORK — Wal-Mart says it is putting electronic identification tags on men’s clothing like jeans and socks starting Aug. 1 as the world’s largest retailer tries to gain more control of its inventory. But the move is raising eyebrows among privacy experts.

The individual items will have removable smart tags that can be read from a distance by Wal-Mart workers with scanners. In seconds, the worker will be able to know what sizes are missing and will also be able tell what it has on hand in the stock room.

Wal-Mart plans to eventually roll out the program to other types of merchandise. Privacy experts say tagging individual clothing is a breach of privacy.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is based in Bentonville, Ark.

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