FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2003
Tags Confirmed in Australian Mach3 Razor Packages
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 Herald.
"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 ten years.
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.
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 more than 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.