Weigh In on Consumer

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-04-05 Print this article Print

Privacy"> Voice your opinions on consumer privacy. Its legitimate to have concerns about consumer data privacy. As Gartners Jeff Woods described to me, RFID represents the architecture for the future of global commerce. It sounds grandiose, but there you have it. And when youre building that kind of foundational architecture, its legitimate to ask if youre building the kind of future anybody would want to live in. Remember in "Minority Report," when Tom Cruises character walked into a store? The screens overhead began to flash customized ads as the character was recognized. Thats the type of sharply targeted marketing that scares consumers. Moreover, at this point, consumers have no idea whats in it for them when it comes to RFID. Retail giants such as Wal-Mart, along with technology suppliers including Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Sun and Oracle, talk about the mountains of money to be saved in streamlining supply chains. Nobodys arguing that the technology will improve inventory tracking and speed up merchandise routing and loading, but consumers couldnt care less about saving Wal-Mart $8 billion. What moves consumers, rather, is the idea of RFID applied in a way thats genuinely helpful to them, such as the ability to call your refrigerator from the supermarket to ask it if you need milk.
Its all in how the questions are phrased. Gartner has done surveys wherein consumers were asked whether they wanted RFID to invade their privacy. Of course, the answer has been no. But when the questioner acknowledges that there are consumer benefits involved, the answers get much more positive.
In the meantime, theres no need to overreact. After all, there are ways to safeguard data, and theres still time to voice your opinion on how data should be used. About 100 companies are working out the hows, whats and wheres with EPCglobal, a nonprofit organization thats driving the global, multi-industry adoption and implementation of a network for the Electronic Product Code (a number for uniquely identifying an item). The body has also taken over standards development and administration since the Auto-ID Center closed in October and transferred its technology to the group. EPCglobal is the one to go to if youve got concerns about the future of RFID. Meanwhile, if youve got database concerns with your ongoing implementation of RFID, let me know—Im all non-radio-frequency-enabled ears. Write to Lisa Vaas at lisa_vaas@comcast.net. eWEEK.com Database Center Editor Lisa Vaas has written about enterprise applications since 1997. Check out eWEEK.coms Database Center at http://database.eweek.com for the latest database news, views and analysis.
Be sure to add our eWEEK.com database news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel