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Monday, November 10, 2003

Yet another reason to hate Wal-Mart
Some consumer products companies will have to invest millions of dollars to comply with Wal-Mart's drive to have every carton and palette it receives carry a radio identification tag, according to a report to be released today by A. T. Kearney, a consulting firm. -- NY Times

While that intro suggests that only "every carton and palette" would have a tag, other parts of the article suggest that Wal-Mart is pushing for every item to be tagged. This would have enormous personal privacy issues, as Katherine Albrecht of CASPIAN continues to point out:

Unlike the bar code, however, the EPC (electronic product code) goes beyond identifying product categories--it actually assigns a unique number to every single item that rolls off a manufacturing line. 8 For example, each pack of cigarettes, individual can of soda, light bulb or package of razor blades produced would be uniquely identifiable through its own EPC number.

So, if you buy a pen or a paperback novel or a sweater at Wal-Mart and charge it to your credit card, that item will be linked to you. Conceivably, you could then be identified wherever you went just by the items on your back or in your pockets. Venture into the airport, the drug store, or another Wal-Mart, and they'll know who you are (By they, I mean Admiral Poindexter and John Ashcroft). Big Brother on steroids.