Feeds

Thirsty Koreans fight duff whisky with mobiles

Bottle-squealer tech stops you hiding the good stuff

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

What's the best way to tell if you're being given duff whisky? Ask your mobile phone, of course. At least, it is if you're in South Korea.

The Korea Times last week reported that the South Korean government intends to crack down on fraudulent whisky sales by making producers put Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chips in premium bottles.

"Starting next year, we plan to recommend local distillers incorporate RFID chips to their 21-year-old whiskey blends," Assistant Minister of Information and Communication Yang Jun-cheol told the Times.

"Then people will easily be able to check through their cell phones whether or not any whiskey is genuine. Plus, the tag will show other data like the distiller and the production date," Yang added.

This seems like lunacy at first, as the RFID chip would be attached to the bottle not the booze. Unscrupulous bartenders could still siphon off the good stuff and replace it with swill, and their luckless thirsty dupes' attempts to expose them using mobiles would be unavailing.

Presumably some crooked retailers, in the habit of putting fake labels on bottles of cheap rotgut, might be frustrated by this ploy. That said, the scoundrels could always use mobiles to find empty tagged bottles in rubbish bins, fill them up again with cheap pop and fool phone-toting connoisseurs with impunity.

To be fair to the Koreans, they don't actually seem all that bothered about people who'll buy top-end Scotch but need a mobile phone to tell them whether it's pukka. Twenty-year whisky is being pushed for tagging simply because it's expensive, and so the cost of the RFID tech might be worthwhile. As more chips get made, costs will fall and more products will become eligible.

"An RFID chip sold for 2,000 won (£1) in 2004 and the price fell to as low as 300 won (15p) now. However, it is still too expensive to use broadly," Yang said.

"The government looks to channel 311.9 billion won (£155m) to 16 RFID-related projects through 2012. This will prompt the shift to RFID," he added.

This suggests worrying social implications for this technology. Say you're visiting a friend's house, and he pours you a large gold medal. For whatever reason, you don't see the bottle - perhaps he uses a decanter, perhaps the drinks get brought through from the kitchen. Do you sneakily use your phone to scan his house for RFID tags? Imagine the horror as you taste cheap blended crap in your glass but detect several bottles of aged single malt in the swine's drinks cabinet.

And imagine the horrors of the future, once Yang's frightful government schemes have come to fruition and all kinds of stuff is tagged up. Intending merely to spy on your host's liquor supplies, you inadvertently scoop in full details of his afternoon purchases at the marital-aids emporium or the specialist lingerie supplier.

Even the famously unbothered-about-privacy Koreans might find they've got a tiger economy by the tail here.

The Korea Times report is here

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.