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and Other Companies Propose Use of Electronic Tags to Track Merchandise-Truth!
Summary of the eRumor The eRumor says there is a
threat to privacy through the intended use of small chips embedded
in clothing and other products that can provide information about
the products and their users wirelessly.
The use of RFID (radio frequency ID
chips) provides easy wireless information from a relatively small
and inexpensive device. Many U.S. shoppers are familiar with
the MobilExxon "SpeedPass," for example. It is a
small key chain device that allows the user to make purchases that
are charged to a credit card but without having to carry the credit
card or exchange the actual credit card information. The user
merely holds the device near the pump and the information for the
transaction is exchanged wirelessly. Another use of the
technology, such as by Benetton and Gillette, is to attach a small
inexpensive chip to a product. According to VigilantTV,
Benetton intends to imbed the chips into collars or labels on
clothing. The stated purpose is for inventory and product
control. If it works well, the ease and accuracy of keeping
track of product in large stores such as Wal-Mart will be
sensational. Privacy experts, however, fear the implications
of the existence of such chips beyond the check-out counter.
The chips need to be within a few feet of a special receiver or
reader in order to be useful, but could the receivers be placed in
public places and you or information about you be gathered as you
went through your day? To avoid that, the experts say the
chips should be disabled in some way at the point of purchase.
Some have said that there could be a booming business in devices
that consumers could buy to disable the chips themselves.
Promoters of the technology say it will help companies track product
through the manufacturing, shipping, and sales process.
Last updated 3/18/03
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
Subject: Fw: very important...
Sent: Saturday, March 15, 2003 4:42 PM
Subject: Fw: very important...
If this is true, isn't it scary?????
Everyone - SPREAD THE WORD!!!!!!! Boycott Beneton and
I'd Rather Go Naked
By Mary Starrett
Fashion designers from New York to Milan have filled the runways in
recent weeks with all the latest Spring looks. Hemlines are up, heel
are down and pink is all the rage. But regardless of what you think of
season's haute couture you should be made aware of a trend that's
catching on... it could make you think twice before buying new clothes.
specks capable of tracking virtually every single item are now being
by manufacturers. This Orwellian technology, called RFID (radio
ID) will now be used by Italian clothing designer Benetton in the form
trackable chips woven into it's apparel. The chips, which function as
itty bitty radio transmitters will be inserted when the clothes are made
will remain intact throughout the life of the garment. According to chip
manufacturer Philips Electronics, the devices will be
Sound like something out of a futuristic sci-fi thriller? Welcome to
your brave, new world.
Benetton is not alone in implementing this frighteningly invasive
technology. Gillette has already purchased 500 million of these tracking
starting in July will imbed them in shaving cream and razors sold at Wal
Mart stores. The chipped items will sit atop "smart" shelves
that will work
in unison with the chipped products to tell Gillette and Wal Mart all
of things; and the info-gathering doesn't end there. As an extra added
bonus, when shoppers take their Big Brother -branded purchases home (and
wherever RFID "readers" are located,) their purchase will be
Journal touts the technology as a way to eliminate bar codes, cut down
costs and theft and says it will be a boon to inventory control.
The founder and director of a group called C.A.S.P.I.A.N. (Consumers
Against Privacy Invasion And Numbering) sees it differently. Katherine
a Harvard University doctoral candidate says what Benetton, Gillette and
over 90 of the world's biggest corporations are doing, in essence, is
"registering" those products to you. Albrecht has been warning
this for years. She says consumers have no idea that these RFID chips
actually track the owner .. " then anytime you (go) near an RFID
the (product) would beam out your identity to anyone with access to a
database - all without your permission".
Think this is waaaay out there? It's not. According to a 2001
INFORMATIONWEEK article on the RFID scheme, proponents are looking ahead
to a seamless,
network of millions of RFID receivers in airports, stores and even your
home. And remember, you can't turn these things off.
Benetton, which had sales of over $2 billion last year apparently thinks
spending the 25 cents to 50 cents per chip will be money well - spent.
The company has ordered 15 million chips for starters. So along with
mock turtleneck you'll be getting an RFID gizmo which operates at 13.56
and stores 512 bits of information. RFID Journal says "unless there
is a big
public outcry, Benetton is not going to be the last retailer to adopt
Did you get that? IF NOBODY GETS UPSET ABOUT THIS IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN!
Don't just SIT there, DO something...Be part of that "big public
doubt will happen 'cause you're either catatonic from too much TV, or
plain don't care.
Know that the likes of Kimberly Clarke, Coca- Cola, Philip Morris,
Target, the U.S. Department Of Defense and the United States Postal
(just think of the implications of THAT!) are watching this Benetton
very carefully. They're poised to begin their own chipping programs in
Where is all this technology coming from? From the brilliant minds at
MIT's Auto-ID Center. In just a few years the center has raked in tons
money from some heavy-duty global corporations who are raring to go on
The effects of this RFID technology are truly chilling. Consumers
be able to escape the watchful eye of manufacturers, retailers and
marketers. Law enforcement would have a field day with this as well.
behavior could be monitored to the nth degree.
So what can YOU do about it?
Spread the word. Boycott Benetton.... (Gillette, too, while you're at
it) and make sure they know you've stopped buying their products and
Get educated. Check out C.A.S.P.I.A.N.'s website: at
It's a good place to start.
Call your local media (radio talk show hosts, newspaper editors, TV
And think about going naked. Katherine Albrecht has. She says "I'd
rather go naked than wear clothes with spy chips".
As for me, I have no problem wearing the old stuff I have hanging in my
closet. I might not make any new fashion statements but I'll be making a
statement that doesn't ever go out of style in a free society. My
statement's summed very well in something called the 4th Amendment.