YOUR PRIVACY DISAPPEARING AT THE RETAIL SUPERMARKET
US Supermarket And Retail
KROGER WANTS YOUR FINGERPRINT!
Attention Texans! You are once again being targeted for a "test" to see how far you will tolerate supermarket privacy-invasion. Kroger, the nation's largest grocery chain, is using stores in Bryan/College Station, Texas to test its new "SecureTouch-n-Pay" fingerprint reader system which "enables customers to shop without needing to carry a purse, wallet or checkbook by incorporating biometric identity verification and electronic financial transaction processing at the POS [Point of Sale]." Those insane enough to participate must sign up by providing a fingerprint, along with personal and financial data, ID information, "loyalty" program information, and electronic payment options.
If this program is not stopped cold, someday all shoppers may be required to provide a fingerprint or DNA sample to simply walk through the door of a grocery store. The days of shopping at the supermarket using a fake or traded card are numbered. Pass this information on, and let Kroger know you don't want this coming to your town. If you are interested in participating in a protest of this technology, please let us know on CASPIAN's feedback page at http://www.nocards.org/feedback/index.shtml .
Source: "Biometric Access Corporation's SecureTouch-n-Pay Brings Enhanced Transaction Processing to Kroger Stores." Biometric Access Corporation Press Release, April 11, 2002. http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/020411/110184_1.html
PLANS TO BUILD ID-TRACKING INTO ALL CONSUMER GOODS
The Auto-ID Center at MIT is studying ways of imbedding computer RFID chips into just about everything, including egg cartons, eyeglasses, books, toys, trucks, and money. Smaller than a grain of sand, the tiny chips send out an identifying signal designed to be picked up and read by devices in the environment. Reader devices can be installed in doorways, shelves, refrigerators, medicine cabinets, airports, and more. Just a few big-name sponsors of the new technology include Wal-Mart, Target, the Food Marketing Institute, Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, UPS, the Postal Service, and the Department of Defense. Stay tuned for a detailed email on this subject to follow shortly.
Source: "Things come alive." USA Today, April 11, 2002. http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/2002/04/12/tinyband.htm
SUPERMARKET MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS UP IN 2001
In a year where merger and acquisition activity decreased across the food sector, the notable exception was supermarkets. In 2001, 27 supermarket chains changed hands, contrasted with 24 chains in 2000. The supermarket industry is becoming so consolidated that many consumers no longer have viable alternatives to the privacy-infringing national chains. Ever wonder why there are so few card-free shopping options in your town? In the past 9 years, 252 supermarket chains (representing thousands of individual stores) have been swallowed up by the big guys.
Source: "Mergers And Acquisition Activity Drops To Lowest Level In Eight Years." The Food Institute Press Release, April 17, 2002. http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/020417/172085_1.html
For annual data see: http://www.foodinstitute.com/mergerchart.htm
JUNK MAIL DATABASES TO ALERT FEDS TO "SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR"?
For several years, CASPIAN has been warning that massive amounts of privately collected retail data could fall into the hands of the government and be used against citizens. Here's proof that at least one former U.S. government official is thinking along those lines, too:
"Bill Clinton has been outlining how technology can play a key role in defeating the new brand of terrorism. The former US president said that information management systems similar to those used by the big mass mailing companies could provide an early warning about suspicious behaviour. 'More than 95% of the people that are in the United States at any given time are in the computers of companies that mail junk mail and you can look for patterns there,' he told BBC World's ClickOnline."
Source: "Clinton backs tech war on terror." BBC News, April 8, 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1912000/1912895.
RETAIL CUSTOMER FILES SOUGHT TO AID IN PROFILING
...Federal aviation authorities and two technology companies called Accenture and HNC Software are planning to test at airports a profiling system designed to analyze each passenger's living arrangements, travel and real-estate history, along with a great deal of demographic, financial and other personal information. Using data-mining and predictive software, the government then plans to assign each passenger a ''threat index'' based on his or her resemblance to a terrorist profile. Passengers with high threat indexes will be flagged as medium or high risks and will be taken aside for special searches and questioning.
Our system ''will check your associates,'' Brett Ogilvie of Accenture told Business Week. ''It will ask if you have made international phone calls to Afghanistan, taken flying lessons or purchased 1,000 pounds of fertilizer.'' The only problem: in order for the system to obtain answers to those questions, the nation's privacy laws will need to be relaxed. Federal laws currently restrict the personally identifiable information that the government can demand from credit-card and phone companies except as part of a specific investigation.
Source: "Silicon Valley's Spy Game." New York Times Magazine, April 14, 2002. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/14/magazine/14TECHNO.
CASPIAN JOINS FORCES WITH OTHER PRIVACY ADVOCATES
CASPIAN founder Katherine Albrecht attended the first ever National Conference of Privacy Activists held this past weekend in Providence, Rhode Island. Sponsored by Privacy Journal and its publisher, Robert Ellis Smith, the conference brought together more than 60 privacy experts from 24 states and 4 Canadian provinces to discuss a broad range of privacy-related issues. Topics covered by attendees including retail privacy, national ID, protecting medical and financial records, and the latest invasive technologies. A plan emerged to form a national congress of privacy advocates to work together on a variety of issues. We'll keep you posted on developments.
Here is a recap of a particularly lively discussion: "Privacy advocates alarmed by prospect of national ID." Providence Journal, April 15, 2002. http://www.projo.com/news/content/projo_20020415_id15.5d4c7c1a.
CASPIAN'S ANTI-CARD ARGUMENTS FEATURED IN NC NEWSPAPER
Food Lion and Winn Dixie's card programs are discussed in this North Carolina article, which prominently features many of our anti-card arguments.
Source: "Customer loyalty cards: Price vs. privacy." Fayetteville Observer, April 17, 2002. http://www.fayettevillenc.com/obj_stories/2002/apr/b07cards.shtml
FLASHBACK: GET READY FOR THE PRIVACY BACKLASH
What's the answer to the erosion of our privacy? A few good sized protests! Here's an excerpt from an article warning retail executives that consumers are getting fed up. Let's prove it.
Experts say that consumers are the sleeping giant of the privacy movement. [One privacy advocate] blames the current apathy on the fact that many advocates have been talking to the wrong audience. "Privacy advocates have only been speaking to a finite audience within the technology community and the public policy world," he says. "They need to rip a page out of other consumer advocacy initiatives like the environmental movement." You'll know that the privacy message has struck home with consumers, he says, when we see the kinds of mass demonstrations that plagued the World Trade Organization gathering in Seattle last year.
Source: "Get ready for the privacy backlash." Darwin Magazine, August, 2001. http://www.darwinmag.com/read/080101/backlash_content.html (Scroll down to "Agitating for Privacy")
CASPIAN - Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering An information clearinghouse and resource for community and national action http://www.nocards.org