Metro Future Store
The METRO "Future Store"
The METRO Extra "Future Store"
The METRO Extra Future Store in Rheinberg, Germany,
is the industry's showplace for radio frequency (RFID) product tagging
technology. To an external observer it appears to be just an average,
modern supermarket with some high-tech gadgetry and a few aisles of DVD's
and CD's thrown in. But in reality, the store was designed as both
a living technology laboratory and a model for the future of global retailing.
Privacy Scandals and Public
In recent months, the METRO Future Store has been rocked by scandals over privacy, inappropriate use of technology, inadequate customer disclosures, and misleading claims. Many believe that the RFID trial has gotten out of control and should be halted.
Founder and Director of CASPIAN (the organization that created this website),
toured the Future Store on January 31, 2004 and discovered problems ranging
from RFID tags hidden in the store's loyalty
cards to shopping
carts that track customer movements and RFID tag "deactivation"
stations that do not work as claimed.
CASPIAN then worked with German privacy organization FoeBuD to raise awareness among the German public about RFID, and to educate consumers about its misuse at the Future Store.
The result was over
100 newspaper, magazine, television, and radio features
across Germany -- including front page headline stories -- informing German
shoppers of the risks associated with METRO's controversial use of RFID.
German consumers have been outraged to
discover the unwitting role they have played in advancing this technology
and are making it clear that they will not tolerate being used as guinea
pigs by the RFID industry.
The public backlash
has put enormous pressure on METRO to end the trials. In addition to being
targeted by a consumer
protest involving more than a dozen German privacy and civil liberties
groups, the store and its partners have come under investigation
by the office of the German Privacy Commissioner and could be facing legal
action. In response, METRO has already
begun at least a partial retreat, announcing
on February 26th that it will no longer hide RFID tags in its loyalty
Facts About METRO
METRO's growth in recent decades has been fueled by aggressive acquisition of smaller retail chains around the globe. While the company lists "internationalization" as a key objective, METRO CEO, Dr. Hans-Joachim Korber, denies that METRO is "building an empire."
Given its wide reach, METRO's policies have the potential to impact tens of millions of consumers around the world. The following is a list of countries where METRO-owned stores can be found:
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.