January 26, 2005
ANNOUNCES WORLDWIDE TESCO BOYCOTT ON BBC TELEVISION
Consumers react to UK retailer's planned expansion of item-level
CASPIAN (Consumers Against
Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) has launched a worldwide
boycott of Tesco in response to the retailer's escalating use of
RFID on consumer products. CASPIAN Founder and Director Katherine
Albrecht made the announcement to millions of viewers watching BBC
Newsnight, the popular UK news program, on Tuesday.
Tesco is the world's
third largest retailer, with over 2,300 stores across Europe and
RFID stands for Radio
Frequency Identification, a controversial technology that hooks
miniature antennas up to tiny computer chips smaller than a grain
of sand to track items at a distance. The technology raises privacy
concerns because RFID tagged items can be monitored invisibly right
through items consumers normally consider private, like clothing,
purses, backpacks and wallets.
During the BBC segment,
Albrecht outlined CASPIAN member objections to Tesco's expansion
of its item-level RFID tagging trials, saying they "would involve
potentially hundreds of thousands more shoppers....it essentially
means that more people will be taking home items containing [RFID]
spychips." She concluded, "that's simply unacceptable."
Paul Mason said Tesco was taking the announcement of the boycott
"seriously," and read a prepared statement from the retailer
that was intended to assure consumers that the store did not have
plans to track products after purchase.
Mason concluded that
"all the big names in this [RFID] industry will be watching
this battle very intently."
program will be available for replay until Wednesday evening at
the Newsnight website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsa/n5ctrl/tvseq/newsnight/newsnight.ram.
Real Player users can scroll forward to the 30:44 time stamp to
view the Tesco RFID segment.
in conjunction with its boycott announcement. The site details Tesco's
RFID involvement, including its past misconduct with the controversial
Gillette RFID "smart shelf."
to maintain the boycott until Tesco complies with the moratorium
on item-level RFID tagging of consumer goods as outlined in a position
statement endorsed by CASPIAN and over 40 of the world's leading
privacy and civil liberties organizations. (See Position Statement
on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products at http://www.spychips.com/jointrfid_position_paper.html)
"We believe Tesco's
decision to pursue item-level RFID tagging is irresponsible,"
Albrecht added. "We're calling on consumers to boycott the
chain until the practice is stopped. If people must shop at Tesco,
we are asking them to reduce their purchases. After all, as Tesco
says, 'every little helps.'"
Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) is a grass-roots
consumer group fighting retail surveillance schemes since 1999.
With thousands of members in all 50 U.S. states and over 30 countries
worldwide, CASPIAN seeks to educate consumers about marketing
strategies that invade their privacy and to encourage privacy-conscious
shopping habits across the retail spectrum.