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Wednesday, 27 August 2003


The Times reports on the campaign of Katherine Albrecht, leader of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) to safeguard the privacy of consumers. Albrecht, who has already saved consumers from Gillette’s “smart shelf” which photographed those buying razors, has decided to make Marks & Spencer her next target because of their proposed use of “smart tags.” The tags, affectionately known to Ms Albrecht as “spy chips” are embedded into goods or their packaging and can be tracked by scanners connected to the internet. As well as allowing thefts and counterfeiting to be more easily detected, the tags allow companies to locate stock that has been misplaced or wrongly shelved. However, they continue transmitting until they are “killed” and according to Albrecht:

“Everything from your earnings to what’s in your briefcase would be sending out information…My concern is that this will be tied in with Britain’s CCTV surveillance system, and you’ll be literally under surveillance at every turn.”

Albrecht’s mission is biblically inspired. She claims to be fighting against the scenario envisaged by the Mark of the Beast in Revelations xiii, where it is said that there would be time when people would not be able to buy or sell food without a number.

The IPKat says: “The protection of private property rights by minimising theft and counterfeiting is a laudable objective but consumers’ privacy should also be protected. The simplest way to strike a balance between the two would be to ensure that the tags are “killed” once a consumer buys tagged goods.”

Spy chips here
Mandatory Big Brother references here, here and here

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