Betreff: CASPIAN NEWSLETTER, 11/19/04: Consumer Power, Privacy, and RFID
Von: CASPIAN Newsletter
Datum: Fri, 19 Nov 2004 17:32:45 -0500

CASPIAN NEWSLETTER, 11/19/04: Consumer Power, Privacy, and RFID


Consumer privacy and RFID newsletter
Edited by Sunni Maravillosa
(Yay! She's back! -KA)

1- Houston kids tagged and tracked like inventory
2- FDA supports RFID tags on pharmaceuticals
3- Wal-Mart's data outstrips entire Internet
4- Airlines must turn over passenger data to TSA next week
5- U.S. passports to get RFID chips
6- Wal-Mart expands RFID use to Sam's Club
7- Albertsons moving forward with RFID tagging plans
8- Should you get a chip in your shoulder?
9- Will your cell phone become your wallet?
10- Lessons from Lexmark
11- FDA gives RFID big push in pharmaceutical labeling
12- What RFID rights?

1- Katherine Albrecht is all over the media!
2- Australian CASPIAN member publishes novel
3- CASPIAN members sound off

1- CASPIAN member's novel a great educational tool
2- Arguments against national sales tax
3- PBS show "The Persuaders" available online

by Katherine Albrecht, CASPIAN Director

Why do creepy RFID initiatives seem to gravitate to Texas, even though
Texans are among the most privacy and freedom-loving people in the
nation? The latest assault involves the children of the Spring
Independent School District, just north of Houston, where 28,000
students will soon be issued RFID badges that will track them as they
get on and off school buses.

Apparently, RFID reader devices in the buses scan the kids and send
their data across town to police and school officials. (Excuse me, did I
read that right? Police?!?) Of course, since the kids could lose or
trade their cards, some bright bulbs are already considering RFID
implants as a more secure alternative.

Despite the fact that no child has ever been lost or abducted in the
Spring district, students are being RFID tagged "just in case" (and at a
considerable cost, too).

This program, if allowed to continue, would mark a disastrous turn for
privacy and civil liberties in this country and set a terrible
precedent. The tracking of school children is especially loathsome,
since not only are kids a captive audience (in this regard, public
school students are second only to prisoners and the military), but they
are not old enough to vote out the perpetrators -- or even to take their
grievances against them to a court of law.

The program's impact on kids is summed up in the words of a 15-year-old,
quoted as saying the program "makes me feel kind of like an animal." Is
this how we, as a society, actually plan to treat the next generation of
Americans? Are we really so intent on numbering, watching, and
dehumanizing kids that we will ignore the impact of our technology on
their independence and psychological wellbeing?

Kids must rely on adults to let them know what is and isn't appropriate
in a free society. We adults, who are older and wiser and know the
historical dangers of unchecked government power, have an obligation to
look out for their interests. We must take a stand to protect our kids
-- and indeed, ourselves -- from the busybodies who would have us all
under lock and key (for our own safety, of course) the moment we let our
guard down.

CASPIAN has many committed, freedom-loving members in the Houston area.
If you wonderful folks want to plan a time and a date to rally to these
kids' defense, CASPIAN will get the word out to the media and spread the
message around the world not to mess with Texas. (And especially not its

Write us at "Houston @/at" if you want to take a stand.

Source: New York Times via CNET, November 17, 2004,+28,000+students+test+an+electronic+eye/2100-1039_3-5456061.html or ========================= MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD ========================= Are you as disgusted as I am with plans to monitor kids like cattle? If so, write an email to the people behind this program: Dr. Michael Hinojosa Spring Independent School District Superintendent Brian Weisinger Spring ISD Transportation Director Alan Bragg Spring Police Chief Regina Curry Assistant Superintendent Cindy Doyle Director of Community Relations To write to all of these people at once, copy the email addresses below and paste into the "TO:" line in your email:,,,,

If you'd like us to publish your comments in an upcoming newsletter,
send a carbon copy to CASPIAN by pasting "sunni @/at" in the
"CC:" line of your email. Note that unless you state otherwise, we will
print your first name and city with your message, but we'll keep your
last name and email address confidential.


The FDA gave its blessing to using RFID chips in pharmaceutical labels,
using the justification of drug counterfeiting. However, by the FDA's
own admission in this article, fewer than 1% of American drugs are
counterfeit. Pfizer and Purdue are among the drug makers who have
announced they'll start using RFID. Scary quote:

"Right away, for the first time ever, a cop can say 'that bottle came
from a crime scene and this suspect is in possession of stolen

Katherine attended a meeting recently where an industry executive
outlined his vision for RFID tagged drugs. His plan involved RFID reader
devices in patients' homes to allow officials to monitor people's use of
prescription drugs. The reason? Increased "compliance" means more money
for the industry.

Source: Yahoo News, November 15, 2004

or ===================================================================== WAL-MART'S DATA OUTSTRIPS ENTIRE INTERNET ===================================================================== Straight from the New York Times article: "Plenty of retailers collect data about their stores and their shoppers, and many use the information to try to improve sales, but Wal-Mart amasses more data about the products it sells and its shoppers' buying habits than any other company, so much so that some privacy advocates worry about potential for abuse." Since, as the next paragraph in the article states, the data include Social Security numbers, drivers' license numbers and more, what reasonable person wouldn't be concerned? The article continues, stating that the amount of information Wal-Mart "houses indefinitely" (yes, you read that right; the information is apparently never discarded) is more than double the entire content on the Internet! Again, from the article: "By next October, the company will require its biggest suppliers to tag shipments to some of its distribution centers with tiny transmitters that would eventually let Wal-Mart track every item that it sells." The article includes a quote from CASPIAN founder Katherine Albrecht who points to the huge variety of personal information Wal-Mart could amass on customers once they have their SSNs and driver's license numbers. Even though the piece focuses on the powerful use of consumer data by Wal-Mart, it's a good way to introduce individuals to the realities of consumer privacy and data-mining. Source: New York Times/Denver Post, November 15, 2004,1413,36~33~2534195,00.html ===================================================================== AIRLINES MUST TURN OVER PASSENGER DATA TO TSA NEXT WEEK ===================================================================== November 23 is the deadline for all U.S. airlines to turn over passenger data so that the Transportation Security Administration can test the Secure Flight passenger pre-screening system. Here are the details of the information to be shared: "Once each of the 72 domestic airlines submits data, including passenger name, reservation date, travel itinerary, and form of payment for domestic flights between June 1 and June 30 of this year, testing is expected to last through the end of January." The data they get will also be compared to existing "no-fly" lists. Source: InformationWeek, November 15, 2004;?articleID=52601881 ===================================================================== U.S. PASSPORTS TO GET RFID CHIPS ===================================================================== The U.S. government appears to have taken the worst possible route to "provide security" by putting RFID chips into passports. They've chosen to use a remote-reading chip that beams unencrypted information to a reader. That means that unless you've taken pains to protect your chipped passport from being read without your knowledge and consent, it will beam "the passport holder's name, address, date and place of birth, and send along a digital photograph." The new chipped passports will go first to diplomats and State Department employees; citizen passports will start to be chipped in spring 2005. Sounds like a good reason not to procrastinate on getting a passport. Source: Wired, October 21, 2004,1848,65412,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1 ===================================================================== WAL-MART EXPANDS RFID USE TO SAM'S CLUB STORE ===================================================================== Wal-Mart continues its RFID push, announcing that RFID-tagged cases and pallets will be shipped to a Sam's Club store in Plano, TX. Since Sam's Club is a bulk-discount store, there's a good possibility that those RFID chips will go home with many consumers. According to the article: "Wal-Mart will alert customers of cases that contain RFID tags via signs and literature that explains RFID, and they can remove the tags after purchase, a spokesman says." The Plano store where the chipped packaging will be for sale is located at Highway 121 and Ohio Drive. This looks like a good target for an educational campaign or protest. Anyone in Plano game? Source: InformationWeek, November 1, 2004 ===================================================================== ALBERTSONS MOVING FORWARD WITH RFID TAGGING PLANS ===================================================================== I guess their loyalty card woes weren't enough to convince Albertsons to listen to consumers; the company has recently released its plan for RFID tagging of shipments of merchandise to their warehouse. The pilot project will begin in early 2005 and will focus on Dallas/Fort Worth Albertsons stores. They hope to have all suppliers tagging crates and pallets by October of 2005. Source: RFID Journal, November 12, 2004 ===================================================================== SHOULD YOU GET A CHIP IN YOUR SHOULDER? ===================================================================== Presumably, if you're a subscriber to this newsletter you know the answer to that question ... but this MSN article does a good job of presenting a balanced view of chipping individuals. Author Josh McHugh saves the best for last: his final two paragraphs provide good information on how readers can be used, and links to various models. MSN often changes their links, so check this one before it goes 404. Source: Slate/MSN, November 10, 2004 Incidentally, Josh featured our work in a great piece he wrote for Wired this summer. See it here: ===================================================================== WILL YOUR CELL PHONE BECOME YOUR WALLET? ===================================================================== >From the article: "Some big players in telecommunications and finance, including Motorola, Nokia, Sony, and MasterCard, think ... that people will rush to make their phones into a kind of magic wand that effortlessly makes purchases or retrieves information for them." Putting all of your sensitive information into one unit -- especially one that can be easily identified (and therefore targeted) is a phenomenally bad idea. Doesn't using the Social Security number as a nearly-universal ID demonstrate that well enough? Security and privacy concerns are being downplayed here in favor of the gee-whiz factor of yet another use for RFID (which the reporter refers to as "an RF chip") technology. Source: Christian Science Monitor, November 15, 2004 ===================================================================== LESSONS FROM LEXMARK ===================================================================== Printer company Lexmark is getting another black eye, courtesy of consumers, for its questionable practices. The company was accused of "planting spyware" on customers' computers. At issue is "undocumented software that monitors the use of its printers and silently reports back to a Lexmark-owned company Web site," according to the first article linked below. However, Lexmark says that users are informed of the software, named Lexmark Connect, in the driver installation process. (Of course, we all read these things carefully, right?) The second article, by Mr. Goodwins, is an excellent overview of the issues involved. He ends it by stating, "In the end, it's up to the users." But what if they are unaware of what is happening? Source: ZD Net, November 11 and 16, 2004,39020375,39173517,00.htm,39020691,39174087,00.htm ===================================================================== WHAT RFID RIGHTS? ===================================================================== Simson Garfinkel offers a thoughtful analysis of the current state of voluntary RFID notification in situations where consumers may unknowingly purchase RFID-tagged products. In doing so, he makes an important distinction between proprietary RFID devices, and the EPC chips that are intended to replace the UPC bar codes. He also recounts some adventures Katherine Albrecht has had in uncovering questionable business practices with RFID chips. Source: Technology Review, November 3, 2004 ===================================================================== CASPIAN ACTIVISTS UPDATE ===================================================================== 1. KATHERINE ALBRECHT has been busy speaking out on consumer privacy issues. It's hard to find an article on consumer privacy that doesn't include a quote from her. In recent weeks she has discussed the VeriChip and pharmaceutical tagging on the NBC Nightly News, NPR, CNN, and NBC's Squawkbox; she has been quoted in the New York Times, Investor's Business Daily and a host of other domestic publications, and she has been cited in publications as far away as France, Australia and India. In addition, Katherine recently participated in an eye-opening yet entertaining segment on shopper cards by the Canadian Broadcasting Company. The written version of the CBC piece is online here: The streaming video (RealPlayer) version of the CBC piece is online here: 2. AUSTRALIAN CASPIAN MEMBER publishes a novel. It's a terrific examination of a boy coming of age in a consumerism-centric society. Psychologist Shaun Saunders drew on his doctoral dissertation data in creating the novel, so there's a real feel of imminence to the book, titled "Mallcity 14". Dr. Saunders was kind enough to send me a copy of the book, which I have reviewed: 3. CASPIAN MEMBERS SOUND OFF Here is just one of the hundreds of email messages of support we receive each month: "I will buy a sheep, shear it, card it, spin it, and learn how to knit before I knowingly buy any clothing with an RFID tag in it." -Lynn, in Wisconsin ===================================================================== ACTIVISM TOOLS YOU CAN USE ===================================================================== 1: CASPIAN member's novel a great educational tool As mentioned above, Dr. Saunders' book "Mallcity 14" is a novel that touches on many of the privacy issues we're facing today. A novel based on research may sound intimidating, but Saunders did an excellent job of creating an interesting story and characters. If you're having trouble convincing people of the state of consumer privacy today, consider giving them "Mallcity 14". It's available online from Trafford Publishers: 2: Arguments against a national sales tax Claire Wolfe & Aaron Zelman have written a great article detailing many reasons to oppose national sales tax. Their article, titled "The FairTax: A Trojan Horse for America?" echoes CASPIAN founder Katherine Albrecht's concern that a national sales tax could lead to unprecedented government surveillance of our purchases and personal belongings, among other problems. Read it online here: 3: PBS show "The Persuaders" available online "The Persuaders" is an interesting examination of the worlds of marketing and advertising in the U.S. The claim is made that Americans increasingly rely on advertising for more than purchase information, but for broader uses, including what to think and whom to trust. If you missed it last week, it's available from the PBS web site, in either Windows Media or RealPlayer format, and via high or low-bandwidth connections. ===================================================================== CASPIAN: Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering Opposing supermarket "loyalty" cards and other retail surveillance schemes since 1999 You're welcome to duplicate and distribute this message to others who may find it of interest.