Mr. Clean Knows Where You Live: Company Adds GPS Trackers To Boxes of Detergent

First there was that broom stalking you on commercials when you got rid of it. Now, your detergent is watching you. Unilever — maker of Omo detergent — is placing GPS tracking devices in boxes of detergent to locate winners of its prizes through a promotions agency called “Bullet” in Brazil. Just think of Mr. Clean tracking you like a detergent version of “Cape Fear.”

The company says that the minute you take one of the boxes from the shelf, surveillance teams will begin tracking you. The head of the promotion promises that “they may get to your house as soon as you do.” That is comforting.

What is fascinating is that the Supreme Court barred the use of beepers by the government to allow the same surveillance in United States v. Karo, 468 U.S. 705 (1984). The Court held that the placement of the device in a can of ether constituted unlawful search and seizure. However, the Fourth Amendment protects citizens against government searches and seizure — not private surveillance. The latter is protected under more fluid concepts in privacy and torts (and in some cases statutory law).

Source: Ad Age

17 thoughts on “Mr. Clean Knows Where You Live: Company Adds GPS Trackers To Boxes of Detergent”

  1. Some pretty alarming stuff in this discussion….

    “Not only are people being tracked, they are being harassed, in an unknown (but apparently large) number of cases. The harassment includes vandalism and thefts, surreptitious home entries (sneak ‘n peek searches?), defamation, and the list goes on.”

    that was enuff for me but I live here in Florida at the moment (counting the seconds….) and I have no doubt about the veracity of the above statement.

    so the end times really are here.

  2. AY, Interesting comments. (Do you have any links to the Florida stories, by any chance — specifically the ones on increased infant mortality and deformities?)

    I was helping a patient complete a medical questionnaire a few years ago and was stunned by some of the information that was being requested about family members — not the questions that have typically been asked about cardiac and other history, but very specific questions about the “mental health” histories of all family members. At the time, I wondered about access to the information by governmental entities. Around this same time, I stumbled on some articles about G.W. and his ilk wanting to screen everyone (and I do mean everyone) for mental health issues/problems. (As a past psychiatric nurse, I was particularly interested.)

    Connecting all the dots is impossible, but I can’t help but think of Darpa’s LifeLog project (mentioned in The Watchers by Shane Harris); other projects like the one named “Perfect Citizen (coupled with all the other surveillance in which NSA is involved); the TIPS program (which some say was stopped, but apparently wasn’t); and TIA (another program which was ostensibly halted, but wasn’t, it would seem). Who knows exactly where we’re headed. It does seem, at times, that this is about long-term social engineering. Something’s seriously amiss, that’s for certain. (Why does “Stepford” come to mind? :-))

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/02/privacy (on Project Vigilant)

    http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2003/05/58909 (on LifeLog)

  3. You know anon nurse,

    I read a story this morning in some places in Florida they are no longer making housing loans, Federally Insured. If you then read another story, that part of Florida has the highest infant cancer and deformities of any part of the state. The government is not saying that this is a reason that they are not loaning money, but hey…what does Atlanta know…..anyways I thought it had burnt down…..

    The interesting quandary is going to come when the people living in some of the more affluent homes cannot sell them because people can’t get a mortgage…..then all hell will break loose.

    Kinda of like in the same breath…the Federal Health Insurance….if that is a government record is it discoverable under FOIA? Its a record kept in the ordinary course of business… Will the other departments and agency’s have access to this otherwise protected information?

    Or is this another was that they government is going to keep tracks of its citizens with out keeping track…..

    I read an article yesterday about the 14th amendment and AZ put to modify it, so even the children that are born here are shipped back….So what does that mean to children that are born to one parent that is a US citizen and one that is here illegally? Where does the kid go?

  4. “GPS tracking enables the police to know when you visit your doctor, your lawyer, your church, or your lover,” said Arthur Spitzer, Legal Director of the ACLU-NCA. “And if many people are tracked, GPS data will show when and where they cross paths. Judicial supervision of this powerful technology is essential if we are to preserve individual liberty. Today’s decision helps brings the Fourth Amendment into the 21st Century.”

    Attorneys Daniel Prywes and Kip Wainscott of Bryan Cave LLP also volunteered their services to assist in preparing the EFF-ACLU brief.

    For the full opinion:

    http://www.eff.org/files/filenode/US_v_Jones/maynard_decision.pdf

    For more information on the case, formerly known as U.S. v. Jones:
    http://www.eff.org/cases/us-v-jones

    ——

    Not only are people being tracked, they are being harassed, in an unknown (but apparently large) number of cases. The harassment includes vandalism and thefts, surreptitious home entries (sneak ‘n peek searches?), defamation, and the list goes on. A resurgence of red-squads? “A new form of McCarthyism”, as some have suggested? I know this.

    If it isn’t curbed, no one is safe. Cross the wrong person, step out of line and watch out.

  5. W= ^..^ , I haven’t seen anything about computers having built in RFID but you can be tracked using your cell phone even if it is off.

    http://www.zdnet.com/news/rfid-could-be-in-all-cell-phones-by-2010/315292

    Things like RFID dust are the up and coming thing along with the implantable chips spotlighted by the Professor and anon nurse’s linked article, which is a very good article.

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9070358/RFID_tech_turned_into_spy_chips_for_clandestine_surveillance

  6. “or maybe my tinfoil hat is slipping”
    ____________________________
    you can borrow mine….;)

  7. Woosty

    don’t know how true it is but i’ve heard copiers leave an identifying mark.

    or maybe my tinfoil hat is slipping

  8. Isn’t it true that laptops have had ‘surveillance’ type chips in them for a long time?

  9. “The company says that the minute you take one of the boxes from the shelf, surveillance teams will begin tracking you. The head of the promotion promises that “they may get to your house as soon as you do.” That is comforting.”

    If I’m out buying cleaning products they better not show up at my door……

  10. RFID-tagged “underwear, jeans and other consumer items” — albeit removable tags (for now) — coming soon to a Wal-Mart near you. (Erin Burnett did a very short piece on this on MSNBC within the past couple of weeks, but it seems to be getting very little press. Am I one of the few who feels that Americans are sleepwalking into an abyss?

    Jul 23, 2010 06:00 PM in Technology
    Should you worry about the tags on Wal-Mart underwear?
    By Philip Yam

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=should-you-worry-about-the-tags-on-2010-07-23

  11. And Yissl, thats a big deal in Brazil too. Its like a person willing a land rover here.

    Blouise,

    Just wait for the report of what Exxons profits are for this quater, they are going to be announced Monday. I hear its somewhere in the 40% range increase. I wonder and I am just saying, if it has anything to do with the Libyan guy being released….hmm, politics, oil, banks, giverment, nah, couldn’t be connected in any fashion. They all have the highest ethical standards so it couldn’t be connected.

  12. AY,

    All food prices went way up during the last big surge in gas prices (transportation costs increases) … the gas prices have leveled off but food prices didn’t go down.

    I want an investigation!

  13. Professor,

    I agree with you but in most states the “rights to privacy get over ridden by the Governmental Interest in safeguarding the public against crimes that the local Jurisdictions find offensive.”

    The is clearly in my mind an over the edge marketing promotion. The folks should be required to do something affirmative to activate the product prize with warnings such as bells and whistles….

    Interesting yesterday I bought an Off Brand Ice Cream not Blue Bell. It was Bryers or Edys or something like that but not as bad as Blue Bunny (in my opinion) and it said 20% more throughout the packaging. Which gives the impression that it more for the same price. Well, it was a dollar more than the same one that was on sale as well.

    Buyers beware of the scam on Ice Cream a number of them have reduced the portion side by 8 oz and are charging the same price as a Blue Bell Half Gallon….Side by side they almost look the same in packaging volume….

    The above was meant only as a commentary on the present state of Ice Cream and the deceptive marketing practices associated therein…..

    One of the BBA’s I have is in Marketing and Strategy Analysis (Product Positioning in the Market Place). It works well in Political Campaigns too….

  14. They use GPS tracking.

    In a product geared toward housewives (because, lets face it, most men left to their own devices are not paragons of cleanliness).

    For a promotion called “Bullet”.

    In one of the most violence ridden parts of the world where 10 women a day are assassinated according to Instituto Sangari.

    Oooooooooooookay.

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