January 7, 2004

Errant Email Suggests Industry Attempt to Smear RFID Activist
Grocery Manufacturers of America and Gillette CEO asked to explain

An errant email sent by a Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) employee suggests that the organization may be resorting to personal attacks to deflect growing criticism of member company RFID plans. The GMA is the world's largest association of food, beverage and consumer product companies. Its membership includes known proponents of RFID, including Gillette and Procter & Gamble.

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 my great surprise, the following day I received a message from her that was clearly intended for someone else," said Albrecht. The text of the email read as follows:

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."
Albrecht characterizes the letter as "disturbing," and has requested an explanation from GMA CEO C. Henry Molpus and Gillette CEO James Kilts, who is also Chairman of the GMA. Her open letter to these gentlemen along with copies of the email exchanges is posted at the CASPIAN web site at

"I am flattered that the GMA apparently finds me so effective that they must resort to trying to dig up personal information about me," said Albrecht. "However, I hope this incident simply reflects poor judgment on the part of a few individuals within GMA and does not represent a standard practice of the organization. I would like assurance that character assassination does not receive the support of GMA or its member and associate member companies."

In addition to Gillette and Procter & Gamble, GMA member companies include Unilever, Accenture, Checkpoint Systems, and SAP, companies known for their RFID involvement. There are also some surprising members like media giant Time Warner.

The employee responsible for the email reportedly works in the GMA communications department, overseen by GMA Vice President Richard Martin. Her name has been omitted from the documents posted on CASPIAN's web site.

Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) is a grass-roots consumer group fighting retail surveillance schemes since 1999. With members in all 50 U.S. states and over 20 nations across the globe, CASPIAN seeks to educate consumers about marketing strategies that invade their privacy and to encourage privacy-conscious shopping habits across the retail spectrum.


Related Links:
Copies of the questionable email sent by GMA intern
GMA apologizes for errant email


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