04 September 2003 | Robin Parker
Supermarket giant Tesco is to press on with plans to trial controversial high-tech product tracking devices despite claims that they infringe human rights.
The retailer has tested the radio frequency identification (RFID) chips - a more sophisticated form of barcode that transmit a unique serial number and more complex data - on Gillette razor blades in its Cambridge store.
But civil rights groups have dubbed the tags a "Big Brother" system as the chips, embedded in the product casing, can in theory continue to track products after they have been purchased.
Tesco is now testing RFIDs on DVDs at its store in Sandhurst, Berkshire. A spokesman said the chief goal is to maintain stock.
"There are 1000s of DVDs we stock and only about four of each title on the shelf," he said.
"The tags will give us visibility of products on shelf and also link back to our distribution centres to know to re-order."
Tesco will decide on future use of the tags when the DVD trial is completed in December.
Caspian, a US shoppers' rights group, has called for a worldwide boycott of Gillette for its use of the technology.
But the razor manufacturer has said it plans to use them only on palettes to track product movement before they reach stores.
Parliament is expected to debate the use of the technology when it reconvenes this month.
Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East, has motioned for a debate on regulation of the tags, which he has said "push our current data protection laws to the limit".