The UK supermarket chain Tesco has admitted testing controversial technology that tracks customers buying certain products through its stores. Anyone picking up Gillette Mach3 razor blades at its store in Cambridge, in the east of England will have his or her picture taken. \nThe London-based Guardian newspaper, alerted by Katherine Albrecht, director of US-based Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy and Invasion and Numbering, to the use of the smart electronic tags, has found that tags in the razor blades trigger a CCTV camera when a packet is removed from the shelf. \nA second camera takes a picture at the checkout and security staff then compare the two images, raising the possibility that they could be used to prevent theft. \n"Customers know that there are CCTV cameras in the store," said a spokesman for Tesco. He went on to insist that the aim of the trial was to provide stock information and not security, but the manager of the Cambridge store, Alan Robinson, has already described how he presented photos of a thief to police. \nThe trial uses radio frequency identification (RFID) in which tiny chips can communicate with detectors up to 20ft away. The chip can then return information -- anything from a unique serial number to more complex product details. Or, as in Tesco's case, it could trigger a camera. \nRetailers have hailed the technology as the "holy grail" of supply chain management but civil liberties groups argue that the so-called "spy chips" are an invasion of consumers' privacy and could be used as a covert surveillance device. \nThe technology is mostly used to track batches of products through the supply chain. \nBut manufacturers want to go a step further and tag each individual product: everything from yoghurt pots to clothes. \nOne potential problem with RFID tags is that they can still work long after the product has been bought. \nIf the tags become as ubiquitous as the manufacturers would like, people could be bristling with the chips in clothes and possessions. Anyone from police to potential thieves could work out exactly what they carry. \nManufacturers, however, insist that the chips can be disabled at the point of sale. \n"You can disable the tag by erasing the data on it and this can be done at the checkout," said Jon Parsell of UK-based RFID Components, which supplies RFID systems to retailers. \nTransport for London (TfL) is also using RFID-style chips in its new Oyster smart cards to allow users to travel around the tube network. The intention is that registered users will have information such as their names and addresses stored on the cards, which would eventually replace season tickets. \nA spokesperson for TfL said that the entry and exit points of each journey made by Oyster users were recorded and that, technically, it would be possible to track people through the tube network. \nNicole Carroll, marketing director for TranSys, the consortium responsible for implementing the system, told reporters that all the journeys made by a user would remain stored in a central computer for the lifetime of the card. \nBarry Hugill of the civil liberties lobby group Liberty expressed concern about "function creep" -- information recorded for one purpose and used for another. \n"We want quite clear legal guidelines as to what information companies, government agencies, local authorities are allowed to glean [and] what they can do with it," he said.
PLANNED OUT: The government is lifting sale and export restrictions on 60% of the 20 million masks made daily, but people can still make purchases using their NHI cards Twenty thousand boxes of 50 masks each would be on sale at FamilyMart convenience stores starting tomorrow, Taiwan FamilyMart Co Ltd (全家便利商店) said yesterday. A box of 50 masks would cost NT$249 for those with FamilyMart memberships and NT$299 for those without, with no limits placed on how many boxes a person can buy, the company said. Convenience store chain operator Hi-Life International Co Ltd (萊爾富) said that it would also start selling masks from tomorrow. It has yet to announce details about prices and quantity. Hypermarket chain operator Carrefour Taiwan (家樂福) said that it would start selling packs of five
BOOSTING BUYING: A source said that the idea of pre-ordering vouchers online is being considered, but the preliminary plan is for people to buy them at post offices A stimulus voucher program to be rolled out next month to boost consumption would be available not only to Taiwanese, but also foreign nationals and Chinese spouses who hold residency permits, a source familiar with the matter said yesterday. The government is fine-tuning the details of the program, which involves issuing vouchers for in-store purchases to revive buying amid the COVID-19 pandemic. During a radio interview on Monday last week, National Development Council (NDC) Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) said that the plan is to allow anyone, regardless of age or income level, to buy NT$3,000 (US$99.89) worth of vouchers for
Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) is expected to recover quickly from the effects of COVID-19, as life returns to normal and thanks to the government’s domestic travel incentives, Yuanta Securities Investment Consulting Co (元大投顧) said in a note on Friday. THSRC’s business might have bottomed out after revenue fell 49.83 percent year-on-year to NT$2.03 billion (US$67.59 million) in April, the lowest in nearly 10 years, while combined revenue in the first four months dropped 26.44 percent to NT$11.63 billion, as the COVID-19 outbreak reduced ridership, the investment consultancy said. “The worst should be over in April as domestic tourism
Delta Electronics Inc (台達電), the nation’s leading power management solutions provider, has signed an agreement to acquire Canadian software firm Trihedral Engineering Ltd to bolster its smart production efforts, it said on Saturday. Delta said in a statement that it would acquire Trihedral for C$45 million (US$32.68 million) through its 100 percent-owned subsidiary Delta Electronics (Netherlands) BV. Trihedral specializes in supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and industrial Internet of Things software, which would strengthen Delta’s hardware offerings in fast-growing areas such as automation, artificial intelligence and data analytics, it said. “The collection, monitoring and analyzing of data are critical to Delta’s two