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Scandal Forces German METRO Extra Future Stores to Drop RFID Loyalty Card
 

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HIPAA


Scandal Forces German METRO Extra Future Stores to Drop RFID Loyalty Card

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 2, 2004

RFID Revolt in Rheinberg: Germans brave snow to protest spy chips CASPIAN posts photos, launches website exposing METRO scandals

Nearly fifty German consumers braved the aftermath of a freak snowstorm Saturday to protest RFID privacy invasion in front of the METRO Extra Future Store in Rheinberg, Germany. This in response to a scandal in which the store was caught embedding RFID tracking devices in their loyalty cards and misleading consumers about RFID tags on products like Gillette razors and Kraft cream cheese.

The US consumer group CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) has posted pictures of the protest online at http://www.spychips.com/metro/protest.html as part of its "METRO Future Store Special Report" website being launched today. The website offers a photographic tour of the METRO Future Store and highlights problems discovered there by CASPIAN Founder Katherine Albrecht during her January visit.

Revelations of RFID tags in the store's loyalty card and RFID product tags that couldn't be completely disabled led to a media onslaught and public outcry across Germany. Days before the protest, METRO dropped its RFID card and promised to replace the 10,000 already in circulation.

However, METRO failed to address its use of RFID tags on consumer items, said Rena Tangens, Founder of the German privacy organization FoeBuD. "While METRO's announcement was encouraging, it did not go far enough. So protesters marched four kilometers through the town of Rheinberg to demand that METRO comply with an international call for a moratorium on item-level RFID product tagging. We also want them to fund a forum of consumer and citizen protagonists to review the implications of the technology."

Having fifty people show up anywhere is a feat, said CASPIAN's Albrecht. "Having fifty people show up in two feet of snow when roads are closed and public transportation is crippled is evidence of how strongly the German people oppose these dangerous RFID experiments.

METRO's Extra Future Store is the industry's showplace for RFID tracking technology. There, companies like Gillette, Procter & Gamble, and IBM have been testing the technology on live consumers in what the press has called a "life-sized petri dish."

Reportedly, METRO executives were surprised to see that consumers cared enough to brave the weather. As a gesture of goodwill, they offered protesters hot soup.

It's going to take more than soup to bridge the divide, said CASPIAN's Albrecht. Global businesses like METRO, Procter & Gamble and Gillette need to realize that consumers won't tolerate being spied on through products and services, and consumers will continue to speak out until they get that message. It's time the world's people leave these abusive businesses and switch to ones that respect their privacy and civil liberties. That's how the free market works.

The "METRO Future Store Special Report" is online at: http://www.spychips.com/metro

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CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) is a grass-roots consumer group fighting retail surveillance schemes since 1999, and item-level RFID tagging since 2002. With members in all 50 U.S. states and over 20 nations across the globe, 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