Big Brother comes to Wal-Mart...

Discussion in 'The Constitutional & RKBA Forum' started by Shizamus, Jun 11, 2003.

  1. Shizamus

    Shizamus New Member

    Jun 27, 2001

    By Mary Starrett

    June 11, 2003

    Starting this week, the nation's largest discount retailer will quietly
    begin selling tracking-chipped products to clueless shoppers. The first
    volley in their war against our privacy is set to start at their Brockton,
    Massachusetts store.

    Wal-Mart will put Radio Frequency I.D. sensors on shelves stocked with
    RFID-tagged Gillette products, but they'd rather you didn't know about it,
    because, hey, you might not like it, and then you might make noise and then
    they'd have a big PR mess on their hands.

    You might even stop buying Gillette products or, say, refuse to shop at

    These chips, researched at M.I.T.'s Auto-ID Center are about the size of a
    grain of sand. Chipsters say the technology will only be used to help
    retailers keep track of inventory - like bar codes. But privacy-loving
    consumers question the very concept of a device that sends out radio waves
    to "readers" that not only identify the article, but where and with whom
    it's going.

    The Big Brother implications of this thing need little hyping to get your
    skin crawling.

    Wal-Mart's putting the pressure on its top 100 suppliers to make sure their
    inventory is all chipped by the end of next year.

    But why start this in Brockton, Mass?

    Could it be because the store's customers are typically lower income
    minorities who'd be less likely to be aware of the tracking devices, and
    even less likely to make a fuss about them?

    Their thinking? Let's foist it on folks who're too concerned about paying
    the electric bill to be aware of these types of issues.

    Retailers are SUPPOSED to alert their customers to the tracking chips and
    offer to "kill" the tags at the checkout counter.

    Don't count on it, because what you don't know won't hurt you, right? And
    to PROVE those RFID tags won't be "killed" at the cash register one of the
    ways they're planning on convincing you, the shopper that these tags are
    A-OK is by touting how "hassle-free" returns will be. Huh? If the tags are
    supposedly turned off at purchase, how can they be read after the item's
    brought back to the store? Just one of the myriad lies you'll be told about
    this technology.

    Are we to expect that in addition to being asked the "paper or plastic"
    question we'll get an option on whether the RFID tags are left on or turned
    off? Not only will consumers be witnessing the death throes of privacy, but
    it's going to cost them. Currently, the chips cost about 60 cents each. Add
    that to the cost of each and every item that uses this Orwellian
    technology. Gillette and Wal-Mart are only the pioneers here, the stated
    plan is to affix each item produced on the planet with RFID tags. Each pack
    of gum, each roll of film, each bottle of Merlot.

    So what's a freedom-loving shopper to do?

    Fortunately for us, there's a really smart lady finishing up a Ph.D. at
    Harvard. She started a group that's bellowing out the urgency of fighting
    this technology; her name is Katherine Albrecht and she's founder of
    CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion And Numbering).
    Albrecht's CASPIAN has proposed a piece of federal legislation called "RFID
    RIGHT TO KNOW ACT OF 2003". It's a law that would let consumers know which
    products had tracking chips attached to them. In short, the proposed bill
    would amend the Fair Packaging and Labeling Program by adding language that
    requires manufacturers to state (in a conspicuous location) that the
    package contains a radio frequency identification tag that can transmit
    unique identification information to a "reader" device both before and
    AFTER it's purchased(!).

    This is where you come in.

    The bill needs a sponsor.

    Maybe YOUR Congressional Representative would like to go on record as
    having helped stop this assault on our privacy. Forward this article to
    him/her and tell them the entire text of the bill can been seen at

    Will you make it a point to email, call or fax your representative today,
    before our Big Brother gets any bigger? Do it NOW before the lobbyists and
    big money special interests get to them and convince Congress these RFID
    chips are consumer-friendly!

    And while you're at it, why not tell the suits at Wal-Mart and Gillette
    (and Home Depot, Proctor and Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, too, by the way)
    that from here on out you wouldn't go near their stores or their products
    with a ten foot pole.

    It works. Remember back a few months when I told you how Italian clothing
    company Benetton had chipped their Sisely line of clothes and was all set
    to roll out the garments with RFID tracking devices? Well your outrage and
    feedback caused them to put the scheme on hold.

    Let's make sure the behemoth Wal-Mart is similarly put on notice. (By the
    way, IBM's planning to add RFID to it's products; so if Wal-Mart manages to
    sneak this past us, all bets are off and then every corporate giant will be
    able to inflict this chilling, tracking/monitoring horror on us.)

    If RFID gets off the ground as planned, that would make George Orwells'
    predictions off by just 20 years. It's up to us. :mad:
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