FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GILLETTE REVERSES POSITION ON RFID SPY CHIPS
AT MACH 3 SPEED
CASPIAN vows to continue boycott until Gillette Confirms
August 19, 2003
Gillette is reportedly packing up its RFID consumer spy chips until 2013.
A Gillette spokesman told Financial Times Reporter Richard Waters that the
company does not plan to monitor individual products in stores for at least
This announcement came just days after CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket
Privacy Invasion and Numbering) launched a worldwide boycott of Gillette
because of the company's involvement in the tracking of consumers with spy
chip technology. (See http://www.BoycottGillette.com.) Earlier reports indicated
that Gillette was to trial RFID technology at the item level through 2004.
Many are heralding this as a "David and Goliath" victory for CASPIAN, but
the grass roots organization isn't celebrating yet. "We are cautious about
recent statements by Gillette, particularly the assurance that RFID tags
will not appear on consumer products until at least 2013," says CASPIAN Founder
and Director Katherine Albrecht. "We want to be sure their statements are
not simply a convenient way to pacify the overwhelming number of consumers
who have written and called Gillette to tell them they're outraged and switching
Albrecht says CASPIAN will continue its boycott until Gillette formally announces
its intentions and addresses consumer concerns outlined in a July 21 letter
to Gillette VP Dick Cantwell. CASPIAN is also considering plans to stage
consumer protests at Gillette's Boston headquarters and various locations
around the county.
Albrecht notes that Gillette has failed to acknowledge its previously stated
intentions to use embedded RFID tags in consumer products. "Dick Cantwell
is on record as saying that Gillette intends to use RFID to track product
'from the time that product is manufactured to the time
the consumer purchases it at the register,'" says Albrecht. "We're also concerned
that Mr. Cantwell is the Chairman of the Board of Overseers for the MIT Auto-ID
Center, the organization developing the infrastructure for RFID technology.
That organization is interested in the tracking possibilities after sale,
Concerns over consumer privacy have dealt several blows to RFID item-level
tagging initiatives this year. Earlier this summer, Wal-Mart reversed its
public position on item-level RFID tagging just weeks after CASPIAN uncovered
and publicized evidence of a Gillette "smart shelf" at
a Massachusetts Wal-Mart store. This spring, Italian clothing manufacturer
Benetton reversed its plans to embed spy chips in its Sisley line of clothing
after a CASPIAN-led boycott.
Most recently, on Monday, California state legislators met to discuss regulation
of the technology.
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 15 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
For more information about the Gillette boycott, visit
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 15 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.