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Advertising Age reports on a new book by Katherine Albrecht, “Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID,” which it says seems to be showing enough popularity that it could hurt the potential rollout and marketing of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

Albrecht is hardly unknown to people in the retailing business. As the founder of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN), she has long led the fight against what she views as privacy-invading technologies such as RFID and loyalty marketing programs. But the new book seems to be generating broader interest, as it is on’s top-ten nonfiction list and number one on its current events list.

The book singles out Procter & Gamble as a primary advocate of using RFID technology not just to track case and product movement, but to extend that reach by tracking consumer activities in a way that will eventually lead to intrusive and illegal monitoring of citizens by companies and countries, stalkers and voyeurs.

But here is where Albrecht seems to be getting ready to explore new territory…

Ad Age writes that “Albrecht, a libertarian Harvard doctoral student, also is preparing to reveal another of her facets – Christian activist. A second edition of her book due in January links RFID to the ‘mark of the beast’ in the Book of Revelations.

“That line of reasoning may make some of her corporate foes snicker privately, but has gotten a warm reception from some fellow privacy advocates hoping to expand their reach.

“For P&G, it could also mean another run-in with conservative Christians. The company was the target for decades of unfounded rumors linking its now-discarded corporate logo to Satan worship and recently ended a boycott by the American Family Association in April by saying it had stopped advertising on such shows as NBC’s Will and Grace.”
KC's View:
You know who really wears the mark of the beast?

People who like to exploit people’s irrational fears about devils and beasts to further their own agendas. This isn’t about right and wrong. This is about someone who sees a way to further her own power trip and to foment paranoia. Next thing you know, she’ll be standing before television cameras saying she has an envelope with the names of 200 card-carrying Satan worshippers in the CPG business, but of course won’t reveal the names, because that would expose her folly.

It’s not like we don’t share some of her concerns about privacy. We do. But we also think that there are tradeoffs for some of what technology brings, and that if you want to surf the web or use a credit card or drive on a toll highway or get on an airplane or use a cell phone, there may be concessions that have to be made. Concerned about privacy though we may be we’re not ready to return to the days of horses and buggies.

Of course, neither is Albrecht. She’d prefer to return us to the days of the Salem Witch Trials.

Ironically, Information Week reports that Wal-Mart has published numbers saying that the use of RFID in its stores has resulted in a 16 percent reduction of out-of-stocks in stores where the technology is used, and that “RFID-enabled stores were 63 percent more effective in replenishing out-of-stock products than control stores not equipped with the technology.”

We know some consumers who think that out-of-stocks are the devil’s work. Maybe Albrecht should chew on that for a while.

Push for legitimate and ironclad legislation that will protect citizens and consumers from inappropriate prying eyes. Fair enough.

But save us from this “mark of the beast” crap.

And deliver us from the evil of self-important, manipulative fear-mongers.