Is The Devil Hiding Inside Barcodes?

For the last 25 years or so barcodes on just about every product you could purchase have offered many advantages to the consumer and retailer alike.

For those purchasing goods the time spent at checkout is significantly reduced as cashiers no longer need to remember the price of every item they sell.

Instead, a red laser beam can quickly and easily retrieve that information as each item passes the scanner.

This is also of benefit to the retailer who is then able to spend less on cashiers as the whole process is much faster than before.

Additionally, the store also benefits from the real-time information that can be used to update their inventory levels which leads to all sorts of advantages in terms of stock management, replenishment and distribution savings.



Not everyone, however, is convinced that barcodes are simply a time- and cost-saving innovation.

Mary Stewart Relfe, author of the 1982 book, ‘The New Money System : 666’, is not alone in believing that barcodes carry a more sinister connotation, namely that that the guard bars (the 3 longer sets of lines at the start, middle and end of a barcode) all represent the number ‘6’.

Obviously, three lots of sixes yields the number ‘666’ which many believe signify the mark of the Devil, as described in the book of Revelations 13: 16-18 –

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is six hundred three score and six.

Is it true, then, that barcodes are indeed the mark of the Devil?

Personally, I don’t think so, but a much more in-depth explanation has been written by Terry Watkins and I would highly recommend reading the page I linked to through his name.


Ok, so I don’t think the Devil is hiding within barcodes, not least because they are on products, not on peoples’ heads or right hands.

Applying barcodes to skin would be problematic at best as they would distort over time due to aging and weathering and would, presumably, be easy to tamper with.

I think it far more likely that the ‘Mark of the Beast’ would be based in genetics or biometrics in the future anyway, if such a thing will ever come to pass.

My more immediate concern with regard to barcodes relate to privacy issues.

Here in the UK, much like in many other parts of the world I would guess, our privacy levels seem to dwindle by the day, usually in order to ‘protect us’ from all those nasty terrorists who are out to get us.

I doubt that there is much of the country that is not already covered by CCTV, identity cards are on their way even though they are too costly and unwanted and the government has so many databases detailing what we do that even they can’t remember them all (

Barcodes represent yet another invasion of what privacy we have.

If you purchase barcoded goods with a debit or credit card then all those purchases can be attached to you as an individual and logged.

Many stores already have their own credit and loyalty cards which mean that they also know details such as your address and possibly your income and expenditure levels.

What if a government were able to tap into this information?

They would be able to add it to yet another database so that, in the future, they would not only be able to predict whether your kids will grow up to be criminals, but also what you were going to buy and where.

Do you find that worrying???

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. Hmmmm, a bit of a religious issue this one. I reckon believers will believe there is something in the barcodes and non-believers won’t know what the fuss is all about.

    • Yeah I’m with you on that one Pete, I would imagine opinion on that would be quite varied and rigid at the same time.

  2. Privacy is certainly on the decline in most countries now. Is it worth being safe if we cease to be free?

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