Update: Benetton backs away from 'smart tags' in clothing line

Fashion retailer Benetton Group SpA said today that it has no immediate plans to attach radio frequency identification (RFID) "smart tags" to its Sisley line of clothing to help track shipping, inventory and sales in the company's 5,000 stores around the world. But it left the door open to doing so in the future after further study.

Last month, Philips Electronics NV in Amsterdam issued a statement saying that the tags, which will use its I.Code semiconductor technology, will be integrated into clothing labels made by Lab ID in Bologna, Italy, and scanned by handheld devices made by Psion Teklogix Inc. in Mississauga, Ontario (see story).

At the time, Terry Phipps, consulting CIO of Ponzano Veneto, Italy-based Benetton, told Computerworld that it was the first time the company planned to integrate the tracking technology into one of its product lines.

Although privacy groups have expressed concern about the use of RFID tags, they said they didn't believe it would create a problem if done openly and with notification to customers. Still, some groups urged that the company's clothing be boycotted.

In its statement today, Benetton said that "no microchips (smart labels) are present in more than 100 million garments produced and sold throughout the world under its brand names, including the Sisley brand."

Benetton said that even though it's currently analyzing RFID technology, no feasibility studies -- including analysis on the potential implications relating to individual privacy -- on the use of this technology have yet been done. The company said after those studies are completed, it will decide whether or not to implement the smart tag technology.

A Benetton spokesman said he didn't know why Philips made its announcement regarding the RFID tags last month.

Philips officials couldn't be reached for comment today.


Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

Where does this document go — OneDrive for Business or SharePoint?
Shop Tech Products at Amazon