Liz McIntyre | 26.01.2005 19:54
has launched a worldwide boycott of Tesco in response to the retailer's
escalating use of RFID on consumer products. CASPIAN Founder and
Director Katherine Albrecht made the announcement to millions of viewers
watching BBC Newsnight, the popular UK news program, on Tuesday.
technology that hooks miniature antennas up to tiny computer chips
smaller than a grain of sand to track items at a distance. The
technology raises privacy concerns because RFID tagged items can be
monitored invisibly right through items consumers normally consider
private, like clothing, purses, backpacks and wallets.
During the BBC segment, Albrecht outlined CASPIAN member objections to
Tesco's expansion of its item-level RFID tagging trials, saying they
"would involve potentially hundreds of thousands more shoppers....it
essentially means that more people will be taking home items containing
[RFID] spychips." She concluded, "That's simply unacceptable."
Newsnight correspondent Paul Mason said Tesco was taking the
announcement of the boycott "seriously," and read a prepared statement
from the retailer that was intended to assure consumers that the store
did not have plans to track products after purchase.
Mason concluded that "all the big names in this [RFID] industry will be
watching this battle very intently."
Tuesday's Newsnight program will be available for replay until Wednesday
evening at the Newsnight website:
Player users can scroll forward to the 30:44 time stamp to view the
Tesco RFID segment.
CASPIAN has launched http://www.boycottTesco.com in conjunction with its
boycott announcement. The site details Tesco's RFID involvement,
including its past misconduct with the controversial Gillette RFID
Albrecht vows to maintain the boycott until Tesco complies with the
moratorium on item-level RFID tagging of consumer goods as outlined in a
position statement endorsed by CASPIAN and over 40 of the world's
leading privacy and civil liberties organizations. (See Position
Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products at
"We believe Tesco's decision to pursue item-level RFID tagging is
irresponsible," Albrecht added. "We're calling on consumers to boycott
the chain until the practice is stopped. If people must shop at Tesco,
we are asking them to reduce their purchases. After all, as Tesco says,
'every little helps.'"
Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN)
is a grass-roots consumer group fighting retail surveillance schemes
since 1999. With thousands of members in all 50 U.S. states and over 30
countries worldwide, CASPIAN seeks to educate consumers about marketing
strategies that invade their privacy and to encourage privacy-conscious
shopping habits across the retail spectrum.
For more information, see:
http://www.spychips.com and http://www.nocards.org