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Commissary to Log Your Info When You Shop

Commissary checkers will soon start scanning your ID card when you make a purchase -- and logging for later much of the data it contains, commissary officials said Oct. 31.

The program, which started at Fort Lee, Va. Oct. 22, will eventually come to every commissary worldwide. Officials aim to have all stores taking part by mid-January. The roll-out will be done in batches of 20 stores, although commissary officials were not able to tell me which stores will come next. They said shoppers, however, will see signs about the change well before it happens.

When your ID is scanned the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) will log a bunch of your information so that they can track who is shopping and where. The card ID number, rank, military status, branch of service, age, household size, and zip codes of residence and duty station of each shopper will all be logged.

With the exception of the household size information and ID number that's the same kind of information that is collected when you sign-up for one the commissary's Reward cards. But the Rewards card requires that you opt in for the program -- and the ID card scanning program does not.

According to a shopper at Fort Lee who had her ID scanned when she shopped Oct, 30., the process is simple: before your order is processed the checker will scan the back of your ID card on the same scanner she or he uses to scan your groceries. And commissary officials say for those using self check-out the process will be as simple as you scanning your ID yourself. That's it.

Shoppers I talked to yesterday were overall supportive of the program. They said it didn't matter if their data is collected because military already does that anyway. But others thought it was an unnecessary further invasion of privacy.

"Call me a conspiracy theorist all you want, but with that information they collect, is it really that much of a reach that they could soon be reporting it and next thing you know you've got a nutritionist and/or financial councilor knocking on your door to discuss your spending and eating habits?" Kelly Maskell posted on the Fort Campbell Wives Facebook page. "I've got nothing to hide, nor am I doing anything wrong, but is it REALLY anybody's business how my family operates?"

Most grocery stores already collect this kind of data as well through their own card program which they require for use if a shopper wants any given sale. The commissary doesn't do that -- their card is only used if you want specific additional coupons which, unlike most other stores, cannot be combined with any other paper coupon. Unless you're shopping at WalMart, which has no card, you're probably already regularly giving all of this information up.

So what do you think? Should the commissary be collecting this kind of data on every shopper at every purchase? Or is this just same-old-same-old in military life?

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