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Exposed: The 'Privacy Expert' Crusading Against Walmart RFID Tags


Just who is Katherine Albrecht and how has she gone unchallenged by the mainstream media?

Beginning August 1, Walmart (WMT) will be tagging jeans, socks, and underwear with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which will allow the company to increase real-time inventory control accuracy to 99%, a significant boost from the usual 70-80%.

"There are so many significant benefits in knowing how to better manage inventory and better serve customers," said Lorenzo Lopez, a Walmart spokesperson. "This will enhance the shopping experience and help us grow our business."

Dean Scarborough, chairman and CEO of Avery Dennison (AVY), the "pioneer in RFID-based solutions," says, "RFID item-level tagging helps retailers realize greater overall productivity," while Shawn Neville, group vice president, Avery Dennison Retail Information Services, says, "Retailers are looking to solve the number-one complaint of shoppers, 'You don't have this item in my size or my color,' and to improve their overall inventory productivity. Item-level RFID tagging systems provide retailers with improved inventory visibility, accuracy, loss prevention, and operational efficiency, and an improved shopping experience for their consumers."

And retail expert Jeff Macke tells Minyanville:

"RFID isn't 'Big Brother.' Stores track shopping trends by region, or if they're really good by store. That's how they know how to do things like stock snow shovels in Minnesota and not Arizona."

Walmart won't say how much it expects to benefit from the RFID program. But a similar pilot program at American Apparel Inc. (APP) in 2007 found that stores with the technology saw sales rise 14.3% compared to stores without the technology, according to Avery Dennison.

Now, you may have come across one of the myriad articles recently that quote privacy experts who are aghast at Walmart's effort to manage its supply chain in a more streamlined manner.

One of these "experts" is a woman by the name of Katherine Albrecht, director of a group called Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, or CASPIAN.

"This is a first piece of a very large and very frightening tracking system," Albrecht told USA Today.

Albrecht has also been cited as an expert on digital privacy in the Walmart/RFID uproar by the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, Scientific American, and others.

Who is Katherine Albright and why is she so vocal in her personal war against a technology that is, in reality, no more terrifying or invasive than a Mobil (XOM) Speedpass, a Visa (V) card, or a GPS signal on your iPhone (AAPL)?

It may surprise you to learn that Albright's concern regarding RFID devices stems not from scientifically validated research into personal freedoms and liberties, but from a belief that RFID is the "fulfillment of end-time biblical prophecy."

In 2006, Albright authored a book with Liz McIntyre, called The Spychips Threat: Why Christians Should Resist RFID and Electronic Surveillance.
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