Tesco and Spychips


Tesco is one of the world's largest promoters of RFID spychips.

RFID Journal says that "Tesco has been among the most active retailers testing RFID technology." The company recently made the world's single largest publicly announced purchase of RFID readers and antennas.


Tesco's use of RFID has escalated dramatically in recent weeks.

Tesco has gone on an RFID "shopping spree," buying 20,000 readers and antennas to be installed in 1,300 of its stores. Tesco "also expects to finalize a deal within weeks for the purchase of millions of [RFID] tags."

Who will pay for this expensive investment? Tesco shoppers.


Tesco plans to subject more shoppers to item-level RFID

In the article "Tesco to Expand Item-Level RFID Trial," RFID Journal reports that "the British retailer says it will switch from high to ultra-high frequency [tags] and expand its trial from two to 10 stores."

The use of any item-level tagging on is in violation of our call for a moratorium. (See next item.)


Tesco's use of RFID tags in individual items ("item-level RFID") violates a call for a moratorium issued by privacy experts worldwide.

Over 40 of the world's leading privacy and civil liberties organizations have called for a moratorium on "item-level" tagging of consumer goods.


Tesco has already abused RFID

The UK Guardian newspaper disclosed that Tesco secretly photographed shoppers picking up spytagged products as far back as 2003. Since that time, Tesco's RFID investment has increased exponentially.

(For more information on the trial, including photos, see www.BoycottGillette.com)


Tesco wants to be a "test bed" for RFID trials involving consumers

Smart Labels Analyst magazine, reported on the photo-snapping "smart shelf" trial that:

"[Tesco Manager Mr. Alan] Robinson was delighted with the project so far. 'We are cooperating with this trial in every way we can -- we would like to be a test bed for many more trials of the kind in the future." - (Issue 27; April 2003)


If Tesco is not opposed, other companies will follow its example.

"As big players such as Tesco and Metro start to take up on [RFID] technology in Europe, this is expected to have a knock-on effect for smaller retailers, which should eventially lead to RFID becoming an industry norm for all aspects of retail." - Food Production Daily


Tesco has encouraged other businesses to spy on customers with RFID.

Smart Labels Analyst (Issue 27; April 2003) describes how Tesco executives actually invited other companies to observe their photo-snapping spy shelves.

They write: "The [Gillette "smart shelf"] trial is creating waves already. [Tesco Manager] Mr. [Alan] Robinson has shown at least 20 groups of interested businessmen around the premises. In June, a group from Japan...will visit the store to see for themselves...."


Tesco and the UK


Tesco's actions affect millions of people

Tesco is Britain's largest retailer, accounting for £1 of every £8 spent in a British shop. Nearly 30% of the groceries sold in the UK are sold at Tesco. Tesco is also the world's third-largest retailer, with thousands of stores across Europe and Asia.

Remember that every shopping trip you make at Tesco casts a vote for RFID. Do you really want your grocery money going to fund spychips?


Tesco has enormous power and they've begun to abuse it.

The Guardian calls Tesco a "charmless bully" and a "bad neighbor" who is "generating its own particular brand of loathing." (Read "Shop Tactics" for more)

When the BBC ran a discussion forum on this topic, many people said that Tesco's negative impact on Great Britain has made them decide to stop shopping at the chain.


Tesco has a history of spying on customers with its loyalty card.

Every time you scan your Tesco card, Tesco collects a record of your purchases. The Ecologist writes that "Tesco...uses the data collected from your loyalty card to dictate what you buy, when you buy and how much you buy." In other words, they use they data they collect on you to manipulate your spending with the store.

(Visit our www.nocards.org website for more information on shopper cards and privacy invasion. This is a topic we have covered at CASPIAN since 1999.)


Other organizations have also spoken out against Tesco.

RFID is just one reason to boycott Tesco. Here are some others:

Friends of the Earth calls Tesco, "the untamed beast" that is "damaging communities, putting local shops out of business, and threatening the livelihoods of many UK farmers."

The "Every Little Hurts" website was set up to protest Tesco's policy of closing community post offices. Previously, many small post offices operated in locally-owned stores which Tesco has put out of business.

Karma Banque critiques "monopolies and monocultures of ideas, information and life, represented by Hollywood, Microsoft, Monsanto and supermarkets," and scolds Tesco for asking publishers to submit their magazines for approval before putting them on sale.

Others are concerned that Tesco has begun outsourcing jobs to India, a practice which contributes to unemployment and causes damage the British economy.

Do you have your own reason to oppose Tesco?

Send it in and we may post it here.

(Write to: TescoSoundoff @ nocards.org.)

The Boycott Tesco website is a project of CASPIAN, Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering

Copyright CASPIAN 2005