Wireless Web Digest: Wal-Mart Cancels Smart-Shelf Trial

Walmart's decision to retreat from RFID testing has raised issues about wireless privacy. Read on for the details and additional wireless privacy stories from around the Web...

Wal-Mart Cancels Smart-Shelf Trial

Wal-Mart Stores has unexpectedly canceled testing for an experimental wireless inventory control system, ending one of the first and most closely watched efforts to bring radio frequency identification technology to store shelves in the United States. A Wal-Mart representative this week said that the retail giant will not conduct a planned trial of a so-called smart-shelf system with partner Gillette that was scheduled to begin last month at an outlet in Brockton, Mass., a Boston suburb. Wal-Marts proposed smart-shelf system was designed to pick up data transmitted from microchips embedded in Gillette product packaging, alerting store managers via computer when stock is running low on the shelf or when items may have been stolen -- two informative and powerful measurements in the retail business.

Read the full story on: CNET News.com

Euro Scheme Makes Money Talk

Euro cash could be embedded with radio frequency identification tags if a reported deal between the European Central Bank and Hitachi becomes reality. A spokesman for the ECB in Frankfurt confirmed last week that the bank intends to add further protection to the euro and that the next series will incorporate updated features, "because technology is advancing rapidly and you have to keep pace with that." The bank is working on a hush-hush project to embed RFIDs into the fibers of euro bank notes to foil would-be counterfeiters. The bills currently have a number of security marks, including threads that glow under ultraviolet light, but as the euros wear thin, these are less perceptible.

Read the full story on: Wired News

Big Brother Is Watching

Software provider MI International has launched a new mobile phone location service which uses the network to determine the location of a mobile phone anywhere in the UK in seconds. The new service, called mapAmobile, is primarily targeted at parents who wish to track the whereabouts of their children. According to MI International, the application has wider appeal to encompass the business arena where it is a more affordable option than GPS-based systems. MI International said that the service has been designed this application with security and privacy in mind. The owner of the mobile phone to be located will receive a text message asking for their consent before the service commences as well as regular text message reminders that they can be located, ensuring total awareness by all parties.

Read the full story on: Mobile Commerce

P2Ps Little Secret

File swappers hoping to share music and other works online without exposing their identity to the prying eyes of copyright enforcers face a tough choice. "There is no good system out there for hiding identities," said Randy Saaf, president of MediaDefender, a Los Angeles-based company that investigates peer-to-peer networks for the music industry. "If theyre sharing content, theyre wide open--theyre running the risk. Its hard to anonymize people on a big public network." One way to achieve reasonable anonymity for downloading files, experts say, is to find a free 802.11 Wi-Fi access point that does not require a password or a subscription. MediaDefenders Saaf admitted that this method offers effective cover for downloaders, but said he believes it is too inconvenient to become a serious conduit for illicit music and video files. "You can go into a Kinkos and plug into your laptop, too, and put files up on a P2P network," he said. "But, if people cant do it at home, they wont do it on a massive scale." In addition, he predicted that wireless operators could come under fire from copyright holders if Wi-Fi file-sharing hubs become too widespread.

Read the full story on: CNET News.com

Peeping Victim Loses Sense of Privacy

Lauri LaBeaus housemate never invited her into his room. Then one day he opened the door to teach her how to download music files, and she noticed something creepy on the TV above his computer -- a live picture of her own bedroom. She could see it all, from her mirrored armoire to the clothes piled on her bed. Steve R. Alvarez had hidden two wireless cameras in their house, court records show, and his computer held tens of thousands of images on its hard drive -- including naked pictures of LaBeau. The cameras were set to record an image every two seconds -- 1,800 pictures an hour.

Read the full story on: Mercury News

Camera-Equipped Phones Spread Mischief

Now that cell phones with little digital cameras have spread throughout Asia, so have new brands of misbehavior. Some people are secretly taking photos up womens skirts and down into bathroom stalls. Others are avoiding buying books and magazines by snapping free shots of desired pages. While camera phones have been broadly available for only a few months in the United States, more than 25 million of the devices are out on the streets of Japan, which leads the world in fancy mobile phones.

Read the full story on: Yahoo! News