Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science in Industrial Engineering (MSIE)


Long checkout lines at the grocery store can be very frustrating. Thanks to point-of-sale technology though, those lines aren't nearly as long as they could be. Point-of-sale technologies have been developed and implemented worldwide to help reduce the amount of time it takes a consumer to pay for products at the cash register. These technologies have also aided retailers and manufacturers in achieving higher levels of efficiency. Bar codes, for example, were first developed to decrease the amount of time required to purchase an item, improve the tracking of inventory, accelerate the acquisition of important statistical data, and facilitate market research. Now, retail store owners have their eyes on a more modem and advanced point-of-sale technology- radio frequency identification (RFID).

Unlike manually scanning a bar code, this recently developed point-of-sale technology uses a tiny chip to wirelessly transmit data to a reader computer. RFID promises greater efficiency in retail than the bar code with respect to purchase time, inventory tracking capability, collection of important statistical data, and valuable market research. All of this could add up to greater profits for retail businesses, cheaper prices for consumers, and less time spent standing in line at the checkout. Although these promises sound beneficial, the use of RFID technology might also create privacy concerns for consumers. Many American consumers are not aware of the vast amount of personal data businesses gather on their customers, or what exactly they do with it. RFID technology will increase the retailer's ability to gather and store personal information on consumers. This raises the possibility for invasion of consumer privacy

Therefore, this research paper was initiated to answer the question of whether or not radio frequency identification technology has the potential to invade consumer privacy rights. The aim of this research was to study how to ethically implement RFID technology into retail in a way that protects consumers against the invasion of their privacy. It first looked at Universal Product Code technology in the development of today's bar codes. Then, it defined radio frequency identification technology. It discussed the importance of carefully examining this, as well as any, new technology and centered on the controversy that surrounds RFID. It examined privacy and security concerns for the retail consumer and explored the value of a consumer's personal information. It also focused on the debate over restrictions, current laws on consumer privacy, and proposed legislation on RFID technology. From this study, the researcher deduced that RFID technology had the potential to invade consumer privacy rights.

It was also found that a consumer's personal, identifiable information was protected under the Constitution as private property. It was concluded that a set of protective guidelines was necessary for the security of a consumer's personal, identifiable information. Therefore, a proposed plan for ethically implementing radio frequency identification technology into a retail business was created. This plan included a Consumer Bill of Rights for Radio Frequency Identification Tagging, Technology Awareness Policy, and Point-of-Sale Protection Program