Spy-chips discovered in German loyalty cards

By EDRi · February 11, 2004

After a tour in the Future Store of the German Metro concern, privacy
advocate Katherine Albrecht discovered spy-chips with unique numbers in
the customer loyalty cards. She also found RFID tags on products sold in
the store that were not completely de-activated after the purchase.

Albrecht, founder of CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy
Invasion and Numbering) was invited by the German civil liberty group
Foebud to lecture about RFIDs and visit the Future Store, that was opened
last year to test experimental RFID applications on live shoppers. “We
were shocked to find RFID tags in Metro’s ‘Payback’ loyalty card,” said
Albrecht. “The card application form, brochures, and signage at the store
made no mention of the embedded technology and Metro executives spent
several hours showing us the store without telling us about it.”

In addition to the tags in the loyalty cards, Albrecht discovered that
Metro cannot deactivate the unique identification number contained in RFID
tags in products it sells. The use of unique, item-level ID numbers is
one of the key privacy concerns surrounding the use of RFID tags on
consumer goods.

“Customers are misled into believing that the tags can be killed at a
special deactivation kiosk, but the kiosk only rewrites a portion of the
tag, while leaving the unique ID number intact,” she said.

Foebud detailed analysis of the Metro RFIDs

Website CASPIAN dedicated to RFIDs