According to reports, the SSB will force all private companies – not just public ones – to hand over data on what foods people in Norway are buying, and in what quantities.
NRK says that the SSB, which collects, produces and communicates statistics related to the Norwegian economy at the national, regional and local levels, will essentially become a Big Brother entity to surveil, track and report on what Norwegians are doing at the grocery store.
"In Norway every citizen is linked to their fødselnummer (birth number), and thus the SSB is well-informed about what individuals earn, their taxes due and their criminal records," reports Free West Media.
"But it appears that the SSB does not yet know enough about their subjects. It has ordered Norway's major supermarket chains NorgesGruppen, Coop, Bunnpris and Rema 1000 to share all their receipt data with the agency. Nets, the payment processor that is responsible for 80 percent of transactions related to supermarket purchases, will also need to provide data."
In a statement, the SSB explained that a link between a payment transaction made with a debit card and a grocery receipt will enable the entity to link a payment transaction and receipt for more than 70 percent of all grocery purchases in Norway.
According to the SSB, it needs to track all Norwegians' grocery shopping habits in order to better design tax policy, adjust social assistance, and award child allowance payments to households.
The methods proposed are "a less time-consuming way" of obtaining the necessary data, the entity says, versus other methods that would be more difficult and invasive.
In 2012, Norwegian households were instructed to list grocery purchases in a paper booklet and submit it to the SSB. That method was prone to errors, however, which is why the entity now wants to go digital.
"When the purchases are linked to a household, it will be possible in the consumption statistics to analyze socio-economic and regional differences in consumption, and link it to variables such as income, education and place of residence," the SSB further says.
Retailers, meanwhile, are pushing back against the plan. NorgesGruppen announced plans to appeal the SSB decision and ask the Norwegian Data Protection Authority for guidance on the matter. Nets expressed concerns "about the collection and compilation of data that may be problematic and intrusive for the individual citizen."
Coop spokesman Harald Kristiansen similarly expressed reservations about the scheme, stating that while the SSB may be acting in good faith, the implications of the new tracking methods are too concerning to let slip by without a fight.
Truth be told, the grocery purchasing habits of everyone, regardless of where they live, are already being tracked – that is, for customers who use things like loyalty cards or digital coupons.
"Many consumers already make available all their purchase data to supermarkets and other retailers in the form of loyalty programs and cards," Free West Media explains.
"While consumers are offered discounts, supermarkets in turn gain access to valuable information about individual purchasing habits and preferences ... But the big difference between these loyalty programs and the SSB proposal is that supermarket loyalty programs are optional."
For many years, now, the general public has been getting groomed to accept mass surveillance by the government as normal. Even the Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19) plandemic was used as an excuse to pry into people's private lives.
More related news on this topic can be found at Surveillance.news.
Sources for this article include: