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The METRO "Future Store"
Special Report

Katherine Albrecht Tours the World's RFID Showcase
Part 1: Background and Getting There


I had an opportunity to tour the METRO Future Store in Rheinberg, Germany on Saturday, January 31, 2004, thanks to German privacy group FoeBuD, the organization that puts on Germany's annual Big Brother Awards. (FoeBuD "honored" METRO with a Big Brother award in 2003.)

The trip came about when I accepted an invitation from Rena Tangens, FoeBuD Founder and Co-Director (with whom I had corresponded for several years about shopper cards), to deliver a talk on RFID privacy to the public in Bielefeld, Germany.

[Note: to view  FodBuD's announcement of my talk, click the thumbnail at right.]

I suggested that as part of my trip to Germany, we should tour the METRO Future Store to get a firsthand look at the RFID trials. FoeBuD made the tour arrangements with METRO, and I was able to confirm my invitation with METRO executives.

After an all-night flight from Boston, I arrived in Germany to dreary weather and drizzling rain. As we drove through Rheinberg, it struck me what an ordinary, middle class residential community it appeared to be. You would never know it played host to something like the Future Store.

Meeting FoeBuD Members

A FoeBuD delegation was waiting in the Future Store parking lot to greet me.  Among the members who accompanied us on the tour were two photographers and a professional television camerawoman who documented the event. This decision would later prove significant.

Preparing to go inside

My first surprise on arriving at the store was to see the word "EXTRA" featured on the signage outside instead of "METRO." I soon learned that the Future Store operates under METRO's "Extra" banner. Apparently, the average German is not familiar with the "METRO" name since its stores operate under a variety of different names. Aside from the words "future store" in small letters on the sign, from the outside this store looks like any other supermarket.

Katherine Albrecht of CASPIAN,  with Rena Tangens and padeluun (one word, no caps) of FoeBud. Rena is holding the Big Brother Award statue she will later present to METRO Executives.

Inside the Store

Inside the store we were met by our three METRO guides, Dr. Gerd Wolfram, Albrecht von Truchssess, and Marcos Fernandez, who would spend the next three hours showing us around.

Continue the tour inside the store >>


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The Spychips website is a project of CASPIAN, Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering.
© 2003-2006 Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs © Peter Ehrentraut, FoeBuD e.V., used with permission.