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Lawmakers to stop Wal-Mart from using RFIDs to spy on consumers

Lawmakers in several states this week are preparing rules to prevent Wal-Mart and other companies from using radio-frequency identification tags to spy on their customers.
Lawmakers Alarmed by RFID Spying

By Mark Baard

02:00 AM Feb. 26, 2004 PT

Lawmakers in several states this week are preparing rules to prevent Wal-Mart and other companies from using radio-frequency identification tags to spy on their customers.

In statehouses in Utah and California, and at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, legislators and regulators discussed how retailers and government spies might use the data gathered from RFID tags to monitor consumers.

Utah's House of Representatives passed the first-ever RFID privacy bill this week, 47-23. Utah state Rep. David Hogue said that without laws to ensure consumer privacy, retailers will be tempted to match the data gathered by RFID readers with consumers' personal information.

"The RFID industry will carry the technology as far as they can," said Hogue, sponsor of the Radio Frequency Identification Right to Know Act. "Marketing people especially are going to love this kind of stuff."

Utah's Right to Know Act is based on federal legislation drafted by the consumer privacy group Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, or CASPIAN. It requires all goods bearing functioning RFID tags in stores to be labeled as such. The bill will take effect May 5, 2005, if it is approved by the Utah state Senate and Utah Gov. Olene S. Walker.

California state Sen. Debra Bowen also introduced a bill intended to keep the data from RFID tags separate from consumers' personal information.

And officials at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston this week met with consumer advocates to learn how the information gathered from RFID tags might be used to monitor shoppers' movements and buying behavior.

By matching an RFID tag's unique electronic product code to a customer's loyalty card or credit card, a retailer could track a shopper's movements, and tailor its marketing pitches to whatever the customer is wearing or to the items in his or her cart.

CASPIAN director Katherine Albrecht also warned officials at the Federal Reserve that spies may want to track citizens with ubiquitous RFID readers embedded in public spaces. The readers could recognize tags that have been hidden inside shoes and other garments by manufacturers, she said.

Some lawmakers now say that RFID tags in retail items may further erode consumers' privacy. "There is clearly an upside for the industry," said Massachusetts state Sen. Jarrett Barrios, "but underlying that is a burden borne by the consumers. It's unnerving to me that the companies have no incentive to protect consumer privacy."

Barrios, who sponsored an aggressive antispam bill that passed the Massachusetts Senate last year, said he is concerned by any technology that threatens consumers' privacy. "And if the past is any indication," he said, "it will again (in the case of RFID tags) be up to legislators to protect consumers' personal information."

Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble and Gillette want to use RFID tags to track every bottle of shampoo or packet of razor blades from the factory floor to the store shelf. RFID readers on so-called smart shelves in Wal-Mart will tally the shelves' contents continually, and make more-precise requests for inventory from the retailer's suppliers.

Retailers will have fewer empty shelves, and suppliers will eliminate wasteful overproduction of their goods, say proponents of RFID.

But shoppers are wary of RFID tags since Wal-Mart was caught secretly experimenting with the tags in its stores in Brockton, Massachusetts, and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, last year. "Some companies naively thought that privacy would not be an issue for consumers," said Mark Roberti, editor of RFID Journal, an RFID trade publication.

None of the retail tests of RFID tags invaded the privacy of shoppers in the Wal-Mart stores, Roberti said. He also said that RFID chips in building security passes and toll-booth tags have never been used to invade a citizen's privacy.

EPCglobal, which sets the technology standards for RFID tags in retail and in the supply chain, is promoting its own privacy policy and appointing a full-time policy executive to oversee privacy issues.

But privacy advocates do not trust retailers and suppliers to police themselves.

RFID technology is a surveillance tool that clearly can be misused, said Barry Steinhardt, director of the Technology and Liberty Program at the American Civil Liberties Union. "To protect consumers, we need laws, not unenforceable policies," he said.

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RFID chips and the law 31.May.2004 14:32

CJ teblen1@kc.rr.com

I am sure that the retailers in Idaho and Oregon will want to be able to use RFID chips to enhance their civil recovery demands and, thus, their revenue.
Because "shoplifting" was such s problem for the corporate retailers when they were responsible for the prosecution of shoppers who attempted to steal merchandise in the stores, the cities, over the past wenty to twenty-five years have changed the law to render apprehended shoplifting the completed crime of larceny ===== that is prosecuted by the cities and not by the corporate retailers.
To do this, the cities granted the power of arrest and recovery to retail security personnel when they are licensed with the city police authroties. These city-licensed retail personnel arrest in their agency of city security police and the retail corporations are not responsible for the arrests and disposition of shoplifting cases.
The cities have arrested millions of persons in the retail security offices of the corporate retail stores and have ticketed these persons for "stealing", on the word of the security personnel, when they are called to the security offices.
They have premeditated the diversion of millions of persons from the courts who are arrested for the first time (no prior arrests) into rehab where they sign releases for their criminal arrests. They justify these arrests as a deterrent to the common event of attempted theft.
But, because the arrests are made outside of the final checkout by double-agent retail security personnel, the attempted thefts are recognized by the courts as completed larcenies. The failure to pay for items because of mistake, inadvertence, or incompetence is not accepted as a defense in the lower court. All persons arrested in the corporate retail stores of America and ticketed for "stealing" are presumed to be guilty by the lower courts. The retail corporations are not responsible for the arrests or the disposition of the cases in the lower courts.
However, the retail corporations wanted to make money on all of these city arrests and tickets for "stealing" and they went to the legislatures and created and passed "civil recovery" and "civil demand" law wherein they can demand punitive damages from the millions of persons who have been, and the millions of persons who will be ticketed for stealing and diverted from the courts.
Minimum civil recovery damages range from $25.00 in Vermont to $200
in states like Florida and Washington. Idaho and Oregon have MINIMUM punitive damages of $l00.00, or $150.00, I believe, and these damages can be demanded in spite of the fact that the retail security personnel have immediately recovered the so called stolen merchandise in the security office of the store-----and 99.9% of the time, it is in salable condition and returned to stock to be sold. Returned to stock because the retail security personnel, who make the stop and arrest in their agency of city secret police, cannot then accept payment for the merchandise.
The courts have recognized these stops outside of final checkout as completed larcenies and the failure to pay and other supicious acts render these acts "completed larcenies" in new case law made these past twenty to twenty-five years.
Civil Recovery in the form of letter demands to the millions of persons arrested and ticketed for "stealing" and then diverted from the courts is BIBIG business in this country today. But "civil recovery" is almost impossible without the fulcrum of the arrests and tickets for "stealing."
All of the civil recovery laws in all of the states grant attorney fees, and some states even permit "actual" damages that are not taxable to the retailers ------and all of this became possible because they changed the law to render "apprehended shoplifting" a completed larceny and they sold the "people's power of arrest and recovery" to the corporate retail corporations of the nation. Retail security personnel do not try to stop attempts to steal, mistakes, or inadvertence. Instead, they are hired to entrap for completed larcenies so that the cities are responsible for the arrests and disposition of the shoplifting cases.
These arrests and dispositions of shoplifting cases by the city police make the civil recovery demands possible because defendants ticketed for stealing are either found guilty or diverted from the courts into rehab where they sign releases to the cities for their criminal arrests.
The manipulation of the criminal law and the new civil law and the manipulation of the principles of diligence, agency, and restitution to give this unconstitutional subsidy to the retailers is disgusting, unconstitutional, and unAmerican.
The RFID chips could and should be used to prevent all attempts to steal, mistakes, and inadvertence in the retail stores of the world. But, the retailers will not want to give up their legalized extortions and will raise "hell" with law makers and get their way.
Why wouldn't they want to kill all RFID chips at checkout? Perhaps, because they want to ALLOW those persons they will KNOW have not presented all of the items for payment (intentionally or unintentionally) to exit final checkout without paying for these items -----so that they can be arrested for completed larcenies and then be extorted by the retailers.
Think about this! I the somewhat new crime of "larceny shoplifting" could be prevented, a million times or more a year our commissioned police would not have to travel to the security offices of the corporate retail stores to ticket persons for "stealing" and to arrange "bail" that will be forfeit to the court when the defendants' tickets are dismissed out of court.
A million times or more our prosecutors will not have to intimidate persons, even innocent persons, into rehab under threat of acquiring a criminal record from a judge who finds "everybody" guilty. The poor and the disadvantaged who attempt to steal out of need will no longer be further punished for being poor and disadvantaged. The rich and the famous and the notable of our society will not be sacrificed and cruelly punished to provide the publicity to brainwash the public into thinking that the act "shoplifting" is a completed crime of larceny and that the prosecution of shoplifting is democratic. It is not! Perhaps, we will not have to keep human beings in prison for 25 or 50 years for failed attempts to steal from large and wealthy corporations.
Who is stealing from whom? And why are we tainting our lower and our higher courts to give this subsidy to the corporate retailers of this country? RFID could stop this! And, you could help, if you would.
The Supreme Court decision that upheld the status quo of California law concerning larceny shoplifting and the three-strike laws inadvertently protected the status quo of "civil recovery" and "civil demand"!
Was this a political decision and was Winona Ryder set up or on the set to provide a year of publicity about felony shoplifting so that our Supreme Court could protect the status quo?
Or was this just coincidence. Was it coincidence, also, that our federal government, the DOD, passed its own civil recovery law for the troops and/or their families wherein exchange managers can extract $200.00 in minimum damages from the troops and/or their families when they are accused of "shoplifting" in the exchanges? This law was passed in March 2002 --The Supreme Court agreed to hear the California case in April of 2002, Winona was found guilty of felony larceny and sentenced in December of 2002 on national TV. The Supreme Court decided that it was not cruel and unusual to imprison a human being for 50 years for two failed attempts to steal nine children's videos in March of 2003. The status quo of shoplifting was protected!
Is this all coincidence? Why did the federal government opt for the highest minimum punitive damages for the troops and their families? Did they think the troops deserved a greater money punishment -----did they think the families of the troops (many of whom are on food stamps) deserved a greater money punishment because they are ALLOWED and PERMITTED to pass final checkouts without paying? Or, did the exchange managers see this as gravy that they could get in an and DOD thought it was a good idea??
RFID could make all of this legalized extortion unnecessary.
But, maybe the $200.00 federal fine for "shoplifting" is a signal to all of the states that it will be okay to raise their minimum punitive damages to $200??
If you are brave, you will check and see how many persons have been arrested in your town or city and ticketed for "stealing" and find out what happens to them! You will know then that I speak the truth.
When you provide the incentive to arrest for profit and there is more money in the arrest than in the sale, most of the time, you can be sure that the retailers will not want to be required to use new technology to prevent attempts to steal.
That's all!


Carol J. Eblen


RFID Chips --- Diligence and the Law 31.May.2004 15:07

cj teblen1@kc.rr.com

RFID Chips could be used to stop the legalized extortion of the Civil Recovery Laws that came into being when the cities assumed the retailers' diligence by granting retail security jpersonnel the people's power of arrest and recovery on the private property they are privately paid to protect.
The retailers are not responsible for the millions of arrests and tickets for "stealing" and the prosecutions for these so-called completed larcenies in the courts. Retail security personnel do not operate in the stores to prevent attempts to steal, mistakes, or inadvertence. They entrap on behalf of the retailers to arrest on behalf of the cities so that the retailers can use the fulcrum of the arrests for "stealing" to send civil demand letters to the millions of persons who have been and who will be diverted from the lower courts into rehab.
Shoplifting, after more than 200 years, had to be rendered the completed crime of larceny so that the "civil recovery laws" could be passed into law and provide the retailers this unconstitutional subsidy. The principles of diligence, agency, and restitution were manipulated to manipulate the criminal and the civil law in the interest of the corporate retailers.
Our lower courts have been closed to any defense against a ticket for "stealing" in the retail stores of this country.
These millions of arrests and tickets for "stealing" have provided the intimidation and the motivation for even the innocents to elect to go to rehab to avoid criminal records and public exposure concerning a crime of "moral turpitude".
These millions of arrests and tickets and diversions provide the fulcrums for the legalized extortions of the retailers.
The civil statutes would be almost useless without the arrests and tickets for "stealing."
The retailers convinced the cities that they couldn't afford to prosecute "attempted theft" because it was not cost effective for them to do so ------ in view of the fact that they suffer no actual losses from apprehended shoplifting.
The cities rationalize these arrests as a deterrent to the common crime of attempted theft, but do they have the right to close the lower courts and to sell the people's power of arrest to the retail corporations of this country.
Now "shoplifting" is cost effective for the retailers and for the cities ---who get the forfeited bail.
Who is stealing from whom?