There’s a rumor circulating the internet courtesy of Dan Berger’s reputable wine newsletter Vintage Experiences that Wal-Mart and Gallo have collectively launched one of the first attempts to place a physical “cookie” on a consumer purchase. For anyone who has been living in a cave for the past five years, a cookie is a small temporary file that is put on a web surfer’s browser to help eCommerce websites track how you are finding their site, what you are buying there and what your buying habits are over time.
Wal-Mart and Gallo, evidently moved by the power a cookie has to track consumer buying patterns on the internet, have engineered a way to a make a corporal cookie. Gallo wines sold at Wal-Mart will now have Frequency Identification tags that are activated whenever a purchase is made with a credit card. Through this corporal cookie, both companies will be able to know who you are, what wine you purchased, where you live, where you bought the wine and how much you paid for it. The information will presumably be compiled in a database where it can be used to discern wine buying habits over time.
Naturally this is a soft spot for consumers who are finally coming to terms with the fact that privacy doesn’t exist on the internet, only the illusion of it does. Now they will have to spar with the idea that privacy is coming to an end altogether.
It is unlikely in this new age of face-recognition software and debit-card tracking that there will be enough momentum mustered to fight the end of privacy in America. However, it should be interesting to see a new generation of software that, instead of removing spy-ware and cookies from our computers, will help remove spy-ware and corporal cookie radio transmitters from our own bodies and recently purchased items.
In the meantime, rack another one up for damn good reasons not to buy from Wal-Mart or from Gallo.