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Tesco and the Surveillance State

Passing Shopper | 05.06.2009 22:31 | Globalisation | Workers' Movements | Liverpool

The Role of Tesco in ID Card Function Creep.

In the past, Indymedia contributors have been scathing about people complaining about the way Tesco uses customers to clerk out shopping at "self service" tills. At the time it was mentioned that this was merely one part of Tesco having no regard for anything but profit.

"Self Service" aside: Tesco have now begun to take part in the promotion of ID cards and, once again, are interpreting the law (both criminal and civil) to serve the interests of Tesco, not the Electorate.

When ID cards were first mooted, it was categorically stated that only "officials" and those with "a right" would be able to ask to see an ID card. Tesco is not a state owned operation and has no legal right to ask to see ID for anything in the shopfront. Tesco have chosen a policy of asking for proof of age for anybody buying "restricted items" if they are under the age of 25. To be clear. It is an offence for a Shop to sell you a knife or alcohol or tobacco if you are under a particular age. There are a range of ages for restricted items - from 14 to 18. Tesco has a policy of asking for ID if you "look" under 25. This is a clear attempt to "avoid" liability for the sale of goods.

The Seller is at fault for the sale of alcohol to under 18s. That is the law. Tesco chooses to ask for ID for those under 25. This is clearly someone in Tesco seeking to avoid prosecution by age discrimination of the 19-24 year olds. Ignoring the fact that discrimination on age (where there is no exemption in law) is illegal.
Rather than refusing to sell to People under the age of 25 completely, Tesco ask for ID.

On the list of "acceptable" identity items is the National ID card. This is, quite obviously the first piece of function creep for ID Cards before they have even become "standard". Not only is Tesco not entitled to ask to see ID cards as they are not a Government Agency, but the Government, at the start of the ID card assured people that this particular scenario would never arise.

Clearly, Tesco is more important to Government than the Electorate.

Tesco have installed a number of "self service" machines. Customers clerk their own goods through and become unpaid labour for Tesco. Some people like the idea as "self service". In the past I have pointed out it goes beyond self service and is, in fact, Tesco getting free labour and placing workplace obligations onto customers. These machines have standard "Phillips Type 1" card readers installed. This is a basic Chip and Pin reader. Given that these can read ID cards, it seems plausible that Tesco will insist that you use the National ID card as proof of age to purchase age restricted items.

This ends the first piece of ID Card Function Creep. Now, instead of being for noble purposes of the highest order, ID cards are little more than a Supermarket Tracking method. Thus reducing the consumer to an even more passive prisoner of the database state, privatising personal identity even more and criminalising a proportion of the population that currently gets a fairly raw deal anyway.

Before the inevitable stream of "self service is good" comments, consider this: today alcohol is restricted, in future it could be other goods or services. Tesco is seeking to diversify and will, inevitably, sell the back end id checking service to anybody that "needs" to do it. Similarly, the ideological purity of shopping at Tescos might well be questionable - but lots of people do it. For some people, given the destruction of communities by Supermarkets, Tesco is the only option.

Finally, who gave Tesco the legal right to demand that you prove your identity to prevent them from committing an offence?

Passing Shopper

Comments

Display the following 14 comments

  1. self service tills are great for getting free stuff! — anon
  2. Tesco, Tesco its the bestco — Max
  3. Agree with some of the above. — Me
  4. nonsense and more — checkout chuckout
  5. common sense — {A}
  6. That's how function creep works. — Sovereign
  7. Good bit of writing — anarkissed
  8. thanks for the article, but NO thanks for MAX — leds
  9. ... — {A}
  10. Have you ever worked in retail? — Doctor doctor!
  11. Tesco — Max
  12. Poking fun at Tesco — A Passing Shopper
  13. Two points — Norvello
  14. The small print — A Reader

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