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Germans protest RFID chips News:- Activists in Rheinberg, Germany, this weekend planned to stage a protest outside the Metro Extra Future Store, the worlkd's fith largest retailer that's alos a test site for RFID tracking and other technologies.

They recently found RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips in the store's customer loyalty cards as well as products for sale, including goods from IBM, Gillette and Procter & Gamble.

RFID chips are also set to replace bar codes, courtesy of VeriSign of domain name fame. Or infamy, depending on where you sit.

"Metro failed to notify customers that they were being tracked," a Wired story continues here. "Although Metro told activists the chips worked only while customers were inside the store, activists discovered that a kiosk used to deactivate the chips didn't completely disable the tags."

Public outcry and the impending protest over the privacy violation at Metro forced the company to cancel its use of RFID tags in loyalty cards," Wired says, going on that even with Metro's retreat, representatives from 14 privacy and civil rights organizations in Germany said they'd proceed with the protest, slated for Saturday.

Rena Tangens, founder of FoeBud, which led the protest, said the announcement didn't go far enough since the company and its product partners didn't agree to remove tags from products.

Metro AG, the store's parent company, is the world's fifth-largest retailer with more than 2,000 stores, including supermarkets and electronics stores in 28 countries.

Metro is not the first company to face controversy over the use of RFID tags, says Wired, adding:.

"Italian clothing manufacturer Benetton Group ran into trouble last year when it announced plans to tag its clothing labels with RFID chips. The company shelved the plan after consumers threatened a boycott. Newspapers reported last year that the European Central Bank was planning to embed RFID chips into the fibers of bank notes by 2005 to thwart counterfeiters. Activists have expressed concern that the chips would record when and where monetary transactions occur, destroying the anonymity that cash payments usually provide."

infoShop, 1. März 2004

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