March 12, 2003

Consumer Group Calls for Immediate Worldwide Boycott of Benetton

An American consumer privacy group has called for an immediate,
worldwide boycott of Benetton (NYSE:BNG) following disclosures that the
company has placed identification and tracking devices into its clothing
products.  CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and
Numbering) announced today that it will oppose Benetton's plans to place
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips into clothing labels
intended for the consumer market.

RFID chips function as tiny radio transmitters, allowing clothing to be
identified and tracked at a distance.  According to a joint press
release yesterday by Benetton and chip manufacturer Philips Electronics,
the devices are "imperceptible to the wearer and remain in individual
items of clothing throughout their lifetime."  The chips have already
begun appearing in Benetton's "Sisley" clothing line. 

Benetton's announcement sparked an immediate firestorm of concern and
outrage among consumers, some of whom liken the technology to the film
"Minority Report," where clothing tags were used to identify individuals
and target them for advertising.

CASPIAN founder and director, Katherine Albrecht, a Harvard University
doctoral candidate and consumer privacy advocate, warns that Benetton's
chips could be used for more than just unwanted advertising. 

"Manufacturers of these chips are already promoting them as a way to
track individuals and inventory their belongings.  It would be easy for
Benetton to link your name and credit card information to the serial
number in your sweater, in essence 'registering' that sweater to you,"
she explained. "Then any time you go near an RFID reader device, the
sweater could beam out your identity to anyone with access to the
database -- all without your knowledge or permission."

This scenario is not far-fetched, according to a 2001 INFORMATIONWEEK
article.  There, RFID proponents predicted the creation of a seamless
network of millions of RFID receivers strategically placed around the
globe in airports, seaports, highways, distribution centers, warehouses,
retail stores, and consumers' homes. 

CASPIAN is cautioning consumers in all 120 countries where Benetton
products are sold to avoid purchasing Benetton clothing until the
company publicly renounces its involvement with RFID tracking

Albrecht said, "We would rather go naked than wear clothing tagged with
spy chips."

Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN)
is a grass-roots consumer group fighting retail surveillance schemes
since 1999.  With thousands of members around the world and in all 50
U.S. states, CASPIAN seeks to educate consumers about marketing
strategies that invade their privacy and encourage privacy-conscious
shopping habits across the retail spectrum. 

For more information, visit CASPIAN's website at

For additional information, see:

Phillips/Benetton press release:

Forbes article illustrating remote inventorying of shoppers' clothing
(As reproduced on Alien Technology's website)

CASPIAN overview of privacy concerns associated with RFID technology:


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The Spychips website is a project of CASPIAN, Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering.
2003-2007 Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre. All Rights Reserved.