This is the text of a letter that went out to 15,000 newsletter subscribers on April 30, 2007.
If you've read Spychips, you know that our worst consumer privacy nightmare is for those little anti-theft tags (known in the industry as "EAS" tags) to someday be combined with individually trackable RFID chips and slipped into consumer products. (See Spychips Chp 4: "The Spy in Your Shoe" for details.)
Well, those tags are now here.
An article in Friday's RFID Journal (posted below), reveals that Checkpoint Systems has actually developed a product tag that combines anti-theft and RFID tracking capabilities. The tags will debut this week at the RFID Journal Live! Conference in Orlando, Florida. What's more, Sensormatic, Checkpoint's only serious competitor, is running a whole conference session to describe the benefits of using this combined tracking technology.
This is beyond a doubt the #1 most important -- and dangerous -- development in the consumer privacy arena today. It means consumers may soon be buying, wearing, and carrying products tagged with RFID at the item level, because Checkpoint and Sensormatic specialize in hiding anti-theft tags deep inside of products, then distributing those products to nearly a million retail locations worldwide.
Now they want to do the same thing with RFID spychips. If they are not stopped, Checkpoint and Sensormatic will soon be hiding these dual-use tracking devices in your belongings, where they will be able to silently and secretly transmit information about you to marketers, criminals, and Big Brother.
This will be a consumer privacy nightmare -- and no one will even know it's happening. That's because industry lobbyists have prevented RFID labeling legislation from passing anywhere in the nation. There is no requirement that retailers or manufacturers tell us when they're hiding RFID tags in our clothes, shoes, books, or anything else.
Our only protection against this threat is the strength of our voices -- and the power of our protests.
Below is a list of relevant companies attending the RFID Journal Live conference in Orlando this week. They will all be hearing from Sensormatic and Checkpoint what a good idea it would be to start hiding RFID tags in the individual items you buy. Please look over the list, and if you see a company you buy from, tell them politely but firmly that if you catch them using RFID at the item level you will not only boycott their company, but you will tell everyone you know to boycott them, too.
Companies attending the RFID Journal Live! Conference:
Academy Sports & Outdoors, Albertsons, The ALDO Group, Anheuser-Busch, Best Buy, Blockbuster, Blommer Chocolate, Brass Eagle, CDW Corp., Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, Electrolux, Energizer Battery, Fuji Photo Film USA, The Gap, General Mills, Gillette Company, Hampton Products, Hasbro, Hershey Foods, Hewlett Packard (HP), Hunter Fan, Hy-Vee, Inc., Jockey International, Johnson & Johnson, Johnsonville Sausage, Kellogg Co., Kimberly-Clark, Limited Brands, L'Oreal USA, Loblaws, Louisville Bedding, Lowe's Companies, Luxottica Retail, Maidenform Worldwide , Mars, Marubeni America, Masterfoods USA, McIlhenny Co., Meyer Corp., Nestle USA, Newell Rubbermaid, OfficeMax, Pacific Cycle, Payless Shoe Source, Pharmavite, Procter & Gamble, S. C. Johnson, SAKS Inc., Sara Lee Foods, Schick, Scott Paper Limited, Sears, Sears Canada, Sherwin-Williams, Storekraft, Stride Rite Corp., Tanimura & Antle, Target Corp., The Valvoline Co., Unilever, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Wm Wrigley Jr Co, Wegmans
[To learn more about the conference, and to see a video on it, see: http://www.rfidjournalevents.com/live/ ]
Write to as many of these companies as you can, and cc: us on your emails. Let them know how strongly you oppose RFID spychips. When you're done writing an email, call their customer service lines for good measure. Send a fax, write snail mail, send a singing telegram. But whatever you do, don't take this lying down. We're counting on you to put a stop to this.
And because they just don't seem to get it, here's a special message for our friends in retail and consumer product manufacturing who may think now is a good time to start spychipping products.
I strongly suggest you reconsider.
Item-level RFID tagging of consumer products is simply unacceptable. It was not acceptable in 2003 when we launched boycotts against Benetton and GIllette for running trials, nor when we exposed the Auto-ID Center's confidential (and very incriminating) PR plans. It was not acceptable when we sued the nation's largest conference center for interfering with our right to protest the launch of the EPC network. It was not acceptable in 2004 when we outed Metro's spychip-laced loyalty card and sparked outrage across Germany. It was not acceptable in 2005 when we launched a boycott against Tesco, Britain's largest retail chain, live on BBC television.
Item-level tagging was not acceptable when we outed the entire industry (including IBM's "person tracking unit" ) in our award-winning book, Spychips, which hit the top ten Amazon nonfiction bestseller list and galvanized readers worldwide. It was not acceptable when we disclosed a tagging trial by Levi Strauss and generated an avalanche of angry letters. It was not acceptable when we demonstrated outside of Wal-Mart stores in two states. Nor was it acceptable when we shamed American Eagle Outfitters and American Express into publicly backing away from their privacy-invading RFID customer tracking plans.
We've done over 2,000 television, print, and radio interviews in virtually every media outlet in the world, and in every one we've clearly said the same thing: Item-level RFID tagging is not acceptable.
It's hard to be any clearer, but in the event there is anyone in the industry who still doesn't get it, here is a promise. If any company purchases dual EAS/RFID technology from Checkpoint Systems or Sensormatic and places even one EAS/RFID tag on a single consumer item, I will personally wage a worldwide campaign to expose and oppose you. Hidden or not, we will find you out and hold you up to public scrutiny.
We trust you will do the right thing.
Meanwhile, may God bless and guide you all, and hold us all in His wisdom, compassion and love.
Katherine Albrecht, Ed.D
Dr. Katherine Albrecht
Founder and Director, CASPIAN Consumer Privacy
Co-author (with Liz McIntyre) of "SPYCHIPS: How Major Corporations and Government
Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID"
http://www.spychips.com // http://www.nocards.org
Bio online at: http://www.spychips.com/media/katherine-albrecht.html
Checkpoint Combines EAS Tags With RFID
The labels contain both a Checkpoint 8.2 MHz RF antitheft inlay and an EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID tag.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor, RFID Journal, April 27, 2007
April 27, 2007—Checkpoint Systems unveiled today the Evolve product family of labels, which marries RFID technology with Checkpoint's electronic article surveillance (EAS) technology. Checkpoint developed the dual-purpose labels to offer its retail customers a means of leveraging RFID tools for in-store inventory visibility while continuing to use the EAS tags as a theft deterrent—without having to apply two separate tags to their products.
The Evolve labels contain a Checkpoint 8.2 MHz radio frequency (RF) EAS inlay, which does not contain a microprocessor or carry a unique ID. The inlay is designed to trigger an alarm if passed through an EAS reader stationed around store exits unless first deactivated at the point of purchase. The labels also contain an 850-950 MHz EPC Gen 2 RFID inlay, to which an EPC can be encoded to identify and track individual products.
The initial Evolve tag design, the Evolve 410, involves the placement of an EAS antenna around the RFID inlay, containing an Impinj Monza chip on an adhesive paper substrate. The label dimensions are slightly less than 2 inches square, enabling it to be attached to most hangtags for apparel and footwear products.
"Before joining Checkpoint, I spent 20 years in the retail industry, and whenever there's a big technology change, such as RFID, retailers face so much [transition]. There's training staff, converting software, new data to manage," says Checkpoint's CEO, George Off. "Anything that can offer [retailers] flexibility [in adopting new technology] and enable them to pace their investments really helps during these transitions. That's what we're trying to do with Evolve."
Off says Checkpoint envisions working with retailers to incorporate Evolve tags as part of CheckNet, the company's global logistics and data communications platform. Retailers and their contract manufacturers can use the system to order product tags—including Checkpoint's EAS tags—that are applied to house-brand products at the point of manufacture. This, in many cases, is done overseas.
Using the Evolve labels as part of the CheckNet platform, retailers and manufacturers alike would be able to leverage the RFID tag applied to products and track their movement through the supply chain—from the factory down to the store level. "Retailers," says Off, "want both EAS security and inventory tracking."
Presently, Checkpoint is still in the early stages of discussions regarding incorporating Evolve product labels into the CheckNet platform, Off says. To deploy such a system, Checkpoint would need to develop a means by which the EPC encoded to the labels would be generated, managed and shared with supply-chain partners. The required RFID hardware infrastructure would also need to be put in place at manufacturing and retail warehouses and facilities. To leverage the RFID tags for inventory tracking inside retail stores, he adds, interrogators would be needed in the back rooms, and possibly on store shelves and at point-of-sale terminals as well.
Conference Session RFID Journal Live! 2007
Item Level Tagging for Retail – Why Combining RFID and EAS Makes Sense
Wednesday, May 2, 11:30 am
ADT, primarily through its Sensormatic brand of EAS and CCTV products, has decades of experience working with retailers to protect their merchandise. Whether it’s a beep at the door or an image recorded to a DVR, “visibility” created by physical layer deployments is at the heart of ADT’s retail solutions. Item level RFID promises to offer new levels of visibility related to both in-store and supply chain processes. And while this new form of process visibility involves many integrated layers, many of the physical layer challenges faced by retailers in creating item level RFID tagging models have already been addressed. This presentation will discuss the challenges retailers face in adopting item level RFID tagging and offer lessons learned from years of experience in providing similar EAS solutions.
Randy Dunn, Director, RFID Sales, ADT Security Services
. Lessons learned from combining EAS and RFID
. Understanding the obstacles for adopting item-level RFID tagging in the retail sector
CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) is a grass-roots consumer group fighting retail surveillance schemes since 1999 and irresponsible RFID use since 2002. With thousands of members in all 50 U.S. states and over 30 countries worldwide, CASPIAN seeks to educate consumers about marketing strategies that invade their privacy and encourage privacy-conscious shopping habits across the retail spectrum.
To join or support CASPIAN or to sign up for our mailing list, please