Wal-Mart - "...where the magic is going to happen."

While catching up at a friend's blog, I came across her link to the WSJ story reporting that Wal-Mart is adding RFID chips to specific clothing items - jeans and underwear - "the first step in a system that advocates say better controls inventory".

It may surprise you to know that, according to my son who works at Wal-Mart, bras are one of the most shoplifted items in the store. Who would have thought?

"While the tags can be removed from clothing and packages, they can't be turned off, and they are trackable. Some privacy advocates hypothesize that unscrupulous marketers or criminals will be able to drive by consumers' homes and scan their garbage to discover what they have recently bought.

They also worry that retailers will be able to scan customers who carry new types of personal "ID cards as they walk through a store, without their knowledge. Several states, including Washington and New York, have begun issuing enhanced driver's licenses that contain radio- frequency tags with unique ID numbers, to make border crossings easier for frequent travelers. Some privacy advocates contend that retailers could theoretically scan people with such licenses as they make purchases, combine the info with their credit card data, and then know the person's identity the next time they stepped into the store.

""We are going to see contactless checkouts with mobile phones or kiosks, and we will see new ways to interact, such as being able to find out whether other sizes and colors are available while trying something on in a dressing room," said Bill Hardgrave, head of the RFID Research Center at the University of Arkansas, which is funded in part by Wal-Mart. "That is where the magic is going to happen. But that's all years away.""

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704421304575383213061...

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Wal-Mart is one of the largest, most successful chain of consumer outlets in the world. Many shop at their stores because of prices which are much lower than smaller competitors but few really understand what Wal-Mart has been and will be used for in the purpose of mass surveillance.

Some little known facts about the most popular retail outlet in the world -

Wal-Mart has an intelligence unit called it's global security division the that conducts intelligence collection and analysis under a former CIA officer, Kenneth Senser.

A man named David Harrison who was with military intelligence in Army Special Operations for 14 years runs the analytical research center for Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart keeps a database and tracks the names, addresses and social security numbers of all of its employees and every member of their Sam's Club outlets. The VIN and plate numbers of vehicles which have oil changes done at Wal-Mart outlets are also kept on record.

From Walmart’s Global Security division:

"takes a comprehensive approach to safeguarding the company’s assets. In a larger sense, we are essentially protecting the shareholder investments of the world’s largest company.

Global Security is responsible for all levels of our security strategy, including planning how to respond to and recover from crises. We use best practices, tools and processes to help associates do their jobs well by protecting the work they do."

http://walmartstores.com/Careers/7686.aspx


We might wonder what great crises Wal-Mart could need to be involved in response to.

From Wal-Mart career pages:

"Walmart Military Opportunities
Walmart is the perfect place to start your career in civilian life. Your time in the military has given you experience like no other: confidence, teamwork, leadership, accountability. These are the very qualities we look for and value in Walmart associates.

At Walmart, you will find that are many areas within our company to apply your skills. We invite you to take a moment to explore our careers site to read about the many different departments within Walmart. From store management, to corporate, to logistics, the opportunities are limitless. Walmart is a place where you can apply these skills to advance as far as you want to go.

Logistics Military Opportunities
Join us and you will work on the largest network outside the military. Your logistical knowledge and experience are critical to maintaining all of our operations throughout the United States and even the world. Come join us and work on a network that would make the military proud."

http://walmartstores.com/Careers/7787.aspx


Walmart advertises job opportunities for those from an Intelligence related background in order to collect public data, anticipate threats from world events, national security climates and suspect individuals or groups.

Wal-Mart has the worlds largest private satellite communications network which provides real time two way voice and one way video transmissions between headquarters and outlets.

From Wal-Mart Privacy Policy page:

"We collect your information from the following sources:

Information you give us, such as during transactions, customer service, surveys, and online registrations.
Information from other sources, such as consumer reporting agencies, and
Information automatically collected when you visit our websites, such as via cookies, and in stores, e.g. via video cameras.

We may collect technical information such as your internet protocol address, your computer’s operating system and browser type, the address of a referring website, if any, and the path you take through our web pages.
We use “cookies” to recognize you as you use or return to our sites. This is done so that we can provide a continuous and more personalized shopping experience for you. A cookie is a small text file that a website or email may save to your browser and store on your hard drive.

We may also use web beacons. Beacons allow us to know if a certain page was visited, an email was opened, or if ad banners on our website and other sites were effective.

We operate cameras in stores for security and operational purposes, such as to measure traffic patterns. Except for security purposes, we do not use these cameras to identify you personally."


(is this not a clever way of saying those images are in fact always used to personally identify people?)

http://walmartstores.com/9243.aspx

""We are going to see contactless checkouts with mobile phones or kiosks, and we will see new ways to interact, such as being able to find out whether other sizes and colors are available while trying something on in a dressing room," said Bill Hardgrave, head of the RFID Research Center at the University of Arkansas, which is funded in part by Wal-Mart. "That is where the magic is going to happen. But that's all years away.""

Wal-Mart has been used as an extension of government agencies to collect information on the public for some time and perhaps there is more than one good reason for people to think twice about shopping there.

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