Everybody seems to be linking to the story about howBenetton is tagging all its clothes with RFID chips

Everybody seems to be linking to the story about how Benetton is tagging all its clothes with RFID chips, tiny radio transmitters embedded in the clothing that allow the clothing to be tracked from factory to store–and possibly beyond. This is supposed to reduce theft, as well as letting “business managers easily store detailed information about customers’ buying habits that could spur further sales. For example, when a Benetton customer makes a purchase, a sales clerk could pull up that client’s history and say, ‘Last time you were here, you bought a black skirt. We have a sweater that matches that skirt.'” Of course, the potential for the police to track people this way hasn’t been ignored either, though the story says something about deactivating the chips at the cash registers, so that customers can walk out unmarked. Frankly, I’m less worried about being tracked in my everyday motions by RFIDs–since I always assume that this can be done anyway, if the FBI really wants to have me followed–than about how this sort of device could be used by corporations to enforce brand loyalty, for instance (as in, “you’d better not ware our competitor’s shirt with our pants”), or to preserve trademarks and copyrights (no removing the corporate logos from your clothes, the way Cayce Pollard, the heroine of Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, does). I’m sure science ficton writers can come up with some even more creepy uses for this technology… Not to mention the use of guerrilla RFID readers as a counter-measure, as Rick Bradley suggests on nettime. The possibilities are endless.