The technology not only threatens consumer privacy, it could allow hackers and tech-savvy shoplifters to fool merchants by changing the identity of goods.
A new software tool, RFDump, can be used to read and reprogram radio tags.
When such tools become widely available, hackers and those with less pure motives could use a handheld device and the software to mark expensive goods as cheaper items and walk out through self checkout. Underage could attempt to bypass age restrictions on alcoholic drinks and adult movies, and pranksters could create confusion by randomly swapping tags, requiring that a store do manual inventory.
But while there are significant malicious uses of the program, consumers could also use it to protect themselves, by erasing the tags as they leave the store.