FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 30, 2004
RFID CLOTHING LABELS "UNAUTHORIZED"
CASPIAN founder: Pull or else
Photographs taken by privacy activist and writer
Katherine Albrecht at the Frontline Expo 2004 conference are "unauthorized"
according to Advanstar. The event management/PR firm has threatened to
ban Albrecht, founder and director of CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket
Privacy Invasion and Numbering) from future events it organizes unless
she "refrain[s] from making the photos available."
The photographs in dispute show Checkpoint RFID-enabled prototypes of
Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, Champion and other name brand clothing
"The notion that I somehow 'surreptitiously' photographed the displays
at your event is baffling," Albrecht said in a written response to Advanstar.
She characterized Advanstar s threat as "an attempt to censor images
that fairly and accurately depict the activities that took place at their
Advanstar's censorship "request," and Albrecht's response are posted at:
Advanstar made the decision to designate Albrecht
as "press" for the event. A sign posted at the entrance to the exhibit
hall indicated anyone designated as 'press' could take photographs. In
addition to representing her organization's online RFID publication, www.spychips.com,
Albrecht attended the event to gather information for a well-known computer
"The photographs I took of RFID tags hidden in clothing labels and other
consumer items document an issue of great public concern, and I plan to
publish them over Advanstar's objections," said Albrecht. "The RFID industry's
efforts to keep these images hidden underscores the danger the public
faces from this powerful and insidious surveillance technology and the
companies that would deploy it in secrecy."
In addition to the RFID clothing tag photos, Albrecht also documented
the item-level tagging of Huggies baby wipes, Kimberly Clark diapers,
Nyquil cold medicine, CVS vitamins, Similac baby formula, and Lanacane
cream. Rather than bow to censorship demands, Albrecht has also posted
these images at:
The RFID tagging of these items is disturbing
from a consumer privacy standpoint, since the RFID industry has lately
assured lawmakers and the press that they are interested only in "supply
side" inventory tracking on crates and pallets.
Item-level tagging of consumer goods violates
a call for a moratorium issued by CASPIAN and over 40 of the world's leading
privacy and civil liberties organizations last November.