On this page:

  • Press release: GMA apologizes for errant email
  • GMA's apology and explanation
  • Ms. Albrecht's response to GMA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 2004

Grocery Manufacturers of America Issues Apology to RFID Privacy Activist
Character assassination not condoned, says GMA CEO

GMA CEO C. Manly Molpus issued an apology for an errant email that suggested the organization might be formulating a smear campaign against an RFID privacy activist. According to email evidence, a GMA employee emailed Katherine Albrecht, Founder and Director of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN), to request a copy of her bio, "for our sources." Ms. Albrecht found the request unusual and emailed a request for further information.

To her surprise, she received a message that was clearly intended for someone else:

I don't know what to tell this woman! "Well, actually we're trying to see if you have a juicy past that we could use against you."

In his response, CEO Molpus explained that the comments were made on the part of an intern and were a "youthful indiscretion." He added, "Her request for a copy of your bio was simply part of a normal effort to obtain information about those who lead  organizations with an interest in industry issues."

When Ms. Albrecht was asked whether she found the explanation plausible, she said, Most people I've spoken to think GMA had less than honorable intentions, but regardless of the original intent, I want to thank Mr. Molpus for his prompt response to this issue and his assurance that such behavior is not condoned by GMA."

She indicated she also received an apology by phone from Richard Martin, Vice President of Communications, who oversees the department in which the intern works.

"GMA has expressed an interest in participating in further discussions about the use of RFID in consumer goods," said Albrecht. "We look forward to a future dialog with them and member companies about the serious privacy and civil liberties implications of RFID technology."

CASPIAN, along with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and others, recently issued a position statement calling for "a voluntary moratorium on the item-level RFID tagging of consumer items until a formal technology assessment... can take place." The statement, which was endorsed by over 40 of the world's leading privacy and civil liberties organizations, is available at
http://www.spychips.com/jointrfid_position_paper.html.

"Perhaps we have now created the bridge to facilitate the talks we need," says Albrecht. "Hopefully, that's the 'silver lining' to this unfortunate incident."

CEO Molpus's complete response, Ms. Albrecht's response to CEO Molpus, and the email evidence, is posted at the CASPIAN RFID web site: http://www.spychips.com. (See CEO Molpus's and Ms. Albrecht's correspondence below.)


GMA CEO Apology to Katherine Albrecht

VIA E-MAIL


January 8, 2004

Katherine Albrecht

Dear Ms. Albrecht:

I received your e-mailed letter of January 7 expressing your concerns regarding a request for a bio and the e-mail comment by one of our interns.  I deeply regret the e-mail message our intern inadvertently sent to you.  We have discussed the matter with her, and I can assure you her comments were nothing more than a youthful indiscretion made in jest.  Her request for a copy of your bio was simply part of a normal effort to obtain information about those who lead organizations with an interest in industry issues.  Again, I am sorry about the e-mail.

As you know, GMA and its member companies are committed to participating in continuing discussions about the use of RFID in the consumer packaged goods industry.  As the industry adopts this technology, we are committed to doing so in a way that protects consumer privacy and offers consumer benefits. 

Again, I apologize for this particular matter and hope that this will in no way impede our ability to have constructive dialogue on important issues around privacy and RFID.

Sincerely,

C. Manly Molpus
President and Chief Executive Officer
Grocery Manufacturers of America

cc:   James M. Kilts
        Richard Martin



Katherine Albrecht's Response to Mr. Molpus

VIA E-MAIL

January 12, 2004

C. Manly Molpus
President and Chief Executive Officer
Grocery Manufacturers of America

Dear Mr. Molpus:

I received your email. Thank you for the prompt response and apology for the errant email. We have posted your response on our website and have issued a statement to the press.

I am pleased to hear that you are interested in pursuing discussions about the privacy implications of RFID. Please let us know how and when you would like to proceed.

Sincerely,

Katherine Albrecht
Founder and Director
(CASPIAN) Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering

cc:   James M. Kilts
        Richard Martin

 

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