Scandal Forces German METRO Extra Future Stores to Drop RFID
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
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
The "METRO Future Store Special Report" is online at: http://www.spychips.com/metro
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