Some military bases on alert for special Coke cans - East Valley Tribune: Business

Some military bases on alert for special Coke cans

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Posted: Saturday, July 3, 2004 7:11 am | Updated: 5:47 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

NEW YORK - There’s a new security threat at some of the nation’s military bases — and it looks uncannily like a can of Coke.

Specially rigged Coke cans part of a summer promotion contain cell phones and global positioning chips.

That has officials at some installations worried the cans could be used to eavesdrop, and they are instituting protective measures.

Coca-Cola Co. says such concerns are nothing but fizz.

Mart Martin, a Coca-Cola spokesman, said no one would mistake one of the winning cans from the company’s ‘‘Unexpected Summer’’ promotion for a regular Coke.

‘‘The can is dramatically different looking,’’ he said. The cans have a recessed panel on the outside and a big red button. ‘‘It’s very clear that there’s a cell phone device.’’

Winners activate it by pushing the button, which can only call Coke’s prize center he said. Data from the GPS device can only be received by Coke’s prize center. Prizes include cash, a home entertainment center and an SUV.

‘‘It cannot be an eavesdropping device,’’ he said.

Nonetheless, military bases, including the U.S. Army Armor Center at Fort Knox Ky., are asking soldiers to examine their Coke cans before bringing them in to classified meetings.

‘‘We’re asking people to open the cans and not bring it in if there’s a GPS in it,’’ said Master Sgt. Jerry Meredith, a Fort Knox spokesman. ‘‘It’s not like we’re examining cans at the store. It’s a pretty commonsense thing.’’

Sue Murphy, a spokes woman for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton Ohio said personal electronic devices aren’t permitted in some buildings and conference rooms on base.

‘‘We’ve taken measures to make sure everyone’s aware of this contest and to make sure devices are cleared before they’re taken in’’ to restricted areas, she said.

‘‘In the remote possibility a can were found in one of these areas, we’d make sure the can wasn’t activated, try to return it to its original owner and ask that they activate it at home,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s just another measure we have to take to keep everyone out here safe and secure.’’

The Marine Corps said all personnel had been advised of the cans.

Paul Saffo, research director at The Institute for the Future, a technology research firm, compared the concern about the Coke cans to when the Central Intelligence Agency banned Furbies, the stuffed toys that could repeat phrases.

‘‘There’s things generals should stay up late at night worrying about,’’ he said. ‘‘A talking Coke can isn’t one of them.’’

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