Who is hiding behind the barcode?

October 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

GS1 GEPIRProducts are part of our everyday life but it is not always easy to know who actually produces the products that we buy. GS1 has developed a solution  but have, of late, been restricting access to this service, excluding consumers and prioritising corporations.

GS1, the organisation responsible for assigning Global Company Prefixes, has privileged access to essential product data on a global scale and is well placed to create a centralised product database. The organisation has shown interest in creating this database in accordance with open standards; however, last week, just as we launched our new working group seeking to scale our open product database, we discovered that GS1 France is doing just the opposite.  

GEPIR (Global Electronic Party Information Registry) is an internet based service that connects people to information about products using GS1 identifiers such as the GTIN code, serial shipping container code (SSCC) or the Global Location Number (GLN). The service allows users to access product information such as the company name, company location and contact information for the company (i.e. company website). Until recently, this service was available to consumers and businesses alike although there were limitations on the maximum number of searches allowed per day.


Last week, however, the French GEPIR service changed their policy. Now, in order to use the service you have to register and to register you need to provide a French Enterprise Identification Number (SIREN). Meaning, now, in France, the GEPIR search function is only available for registered companies to use,;consumers have lost access to access to this information.  Premium access is also available and allows companies to automatically conduct GEPIR searches from the company’s internal information system, simplifying supply chain management, market research etc. Unfortunately, this service is available only to those who can afford to pay.

How would an Open Product Data help?

An open product database would allow programmers to build their own product search applications, potentially improving upon the GEPIR search function while not restricting access. GEPIR is marketed as a tool helping companies uncover who is hiding behind a barcode; we are merely suggesting that this be something we should all have access to.

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