we sent out this press release, Coles Myer spokesman Scott Whiffen told
us by email that "There are no RFID tags in our Gillette razor blades."
He indicated that the story in the Sydney Morning Herald was incorrect.
up with the Australian journalist who wrote the story, Kirsty Needham,
by phone. She said that her notes were very clear and that she believed
her story to be accurate based on her initial conversations with Mr. Whiffen.
or not any Gillette packages contained RFID chips at the time of the story
is in dispute. We'd love to have Gillette help settle the matter, but
we haven't heard from them.
it is clear from an October 2003 article in CIO Magazine, Retooling Retail, that Coles Myer
is very interested in RFID technology. According to the article, they
are "actively examining the possibilities of technologies like RFID."
Myer CIO Peter Mahler is quoted in the article as saying, "My vision is
that each of the suppliers - you know, Gillette, Procter & Gamble
- they will have visibility of their product on our store shelves. What
that is going to do is allow us to provide real-time inventory, and that
will help our suppliers absolutely."
out, Australia. It looks like Coles Myer wants to play tag.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2003
RFID Tags Confirmed in Australian Mach3
Angry Aussies may be next to protest spy chips
Gillette is at it again -- this time in the Land
Down Under. Australia's largest retailer, Coles Myer, has confirmed that
it is selling Gillette Mach3 razor packages laced with radio frequency
identification (RFID) spy chips, according to a story in Saturday's Sydney Morning
"Gillette couldn't get away with using this invasive technology in the
United States or Great Britain," said Katherine Albrecht, Founder and
Director of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering
(CASPIAN). "Now they're testing the waters in Australia to see if consumers
there will tolerate it. We are confident, however, that the privacy-loving
Australian people will set Gillette straight by joining other nations
in a boycott of Gillette products."
Gillette's RFID tagging of individual razor packages ignores a call for
a moratorium on item-level RFID tagging spelled out in the "Position Statement on the Use of RFID
in Consumer Products" issued last month by over 40 of the world's
leading privacy and civil liberties organizations. Among organizations
endorsing the call for a moratorium are Electronic Frontiers
Australia and the Australia-based anti-spam group Junkbusters.
CASPIAN launched its boycott of Gillette in August 2003 after the U.K.
Guardian newspaper revealed that an RFID-rigged Gillette "smart shelf"
at a Tesco store was secretly monitoring customers. Shelf sensors triggered
a hidden camera to take close-up photographs of consumers when they picked
up Mach3 razor packages. This system presumed that all Gillette customers
were shoplifters until they could prove themselves innocent by having
a second secret mug shot taken as they paid for the razors at checkout.
When photo snapping shelves in Britain and at a U.S. Wal-Mart store were
revealed, angry consumers fired back with a flurry of protest letters
and phone calls. Brits also protested outside of Tesco stores. Both Tesco
and Wal-Mart quickly removed the "smart shelves," and Gillette promised
to shift its RFID focus to back rooms and warehouses only. Gillette's
current activity in Australia contradicts statements it made at the time
that it had no plans to tag individual packages with RFID for at least
Full documentation of Gillette's RFID spy shelf debacle, called "the world's
stupidest anti-shoplifting campaign" by one Australian media outlet, can
be viewed on CASPIAN's Gillette web site: http://www.BoycottGillette.com.
There consumers can see a video explaining how the shelf works, read related
news stories, and identify the family of Gillette products that consumers
are being encouraged to boycott.
CASPIAN encourages concerned consumers to contact Gillette and Coles Myer
to voice their opposition to the item-level tagging of consumer items.
Telephone, email and postal contact information is also available at the