79 Denv. U. L. Rev. 534 (2001-2002)
Supremarket Cards: The Tip of the Retail Surveillance Iceberg

handle is hein.journals/denlr79 and id is 548 raw text is: Supermarket Cards:
The Tip of the RETAIL SURVEILLANCE Iceberg
by Katherine Albrecht, Ed. M.
CASPIAN - Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering1

SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
_he good news is, marketers know so much more aboutyou that
they can precisely tailor their marketing messages. The bad
news is, marketers know so much more about you even when
you wouldprefer your anonymity. One man's relevance is another
man's intrusion. Big Brother has truly arrived, with a grin and a fist
full of coupons.2

- Frequency Marketing in the 21st
Century
Love 'em, hate 'em, or merely
tolerate them, there is no escaping
the fact that supermarket cards have
become a fixture of the American
retail landscape. Since first appearing
in the early 1990's, card-based
purchase tracking programs,
variously known as loyalty, frequent
shopper, reward, or club cards, have
spread quickly throughout the
grocery industry. InJanuary 2000 it
was estimated that 60% of U.S.
grocers required a card to obtain
discounts,3 and today eight of the top
ten U.S. grocery retailers own at least
one supermarket chain with a card
program in place or a trial
underway.4
Promoted as savings devices by the
grocery industry, cards allow retailers
to amass unprecedented amounts of
longitudinal information on
consumer purchase and eating
habits. Each time a shopper scans a
card at the checkout lane, a record of
the items purchased, the time, the
534 I DENVER UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW

store location, and the payment
method are added to the shopper's
profile. Along with millions of other
records, this profile is stored in an
enormous data warehouse
(frequently a secure facility run by a
marketing company under contract
to several
different
supermarkets)
where it can be
analyzed in
detail or simply
stored until a
later use is found              A
for it.
A storm on the        PrIPSS
horizon             ,, [    ECE
...she has
resigned herself
to those moments
of simmering
anxiety she
sometimes feels
when she hands over her card at the
grocery store. 'It's like sitting in your
beachfrontproperty watching the
storm warnings, hoping the

hurricane doesn't hit you, 'said
Arden Schell, 58, ofArlington. 'It's the
kind of thing you worry about but
you don't know how toput a stop to
it. ,5
- Robert O'Harrow, Jr., Washington
Post Reporter, quoting Virginia
Shopper Arden Schell
Though the majority of American
households have signed up for at
least one supermarket card,6 high
rates of program participation do not
necessarily mean that consumers are
comfortable with the programs. A
growin  segment of
the pop~ilation has
begun to express
deep concerns
about the privacy
implications of using
supermarket cards.
Shoppers like
Arden Schell are
correct in sensing a
storm on the
Ahorizon. Today, not
only can marketers
'IIN        and product
manufacturers
access a dizzying
array of data on
supermarket
shoppers through the use of cards
and related technologies, but soon
social agencies, health insurance
companies, law enforcement, the

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