Friday, January 9, 2009

Federal Lawmaker Targets RFID In Privacy Push

I just wrote yesterday about the new RFID law that went into effect in California on January 1st that bans “skimming” information from RFID-enabled IDs without the knowledge and consent of the ID holder. Violators of this law will face ‘imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, a fine of not more than USD 1,500, or both that fine and imprisonment’.

Well, with a strong Democratic majority in Congress combined with an Obama administration there's a good chance that this law will go national next year, along with a host of other protections against various privacy threats that RFID technology poses (still to be determined).

The article is a short one so I'll just post it in its entirety. K.C. Jones of InformationWeek reports:

A Washington State representative has vowed to fight what he calls "spy technology" devices in a privacy push during 2009. Rep. Jeff Morris, a Democrat, said Tuesday that he will fight the "malicious" use of RFID chips this year. He plans to propose a new package of consumer protection bills next week when the state's legislative session begins.

Morris said that RFID chips are proliferating in consumer products and government identification. While he acknowledges the benefits of the technology, he said consumers and citizens should remain in charge of who collects their personal information.

The lawmaker wants to ban intentional scans of people's identification documents without first gaining specific consent, except in cases of emergencies or court-ordered electronic monitoring. He also wants all products containing RFID chips to be marked clearly so consumers know which products contain them.

Morris said he predicts that business interests and corporate lobbyists seeking broader use of RFID chips will oppose his bills. The technology is not only used for supply tracking but it also can help businesses speed checkout, identify shoppers, and determine shoppers' locations within stores.

"The potential for marketing and convenience is great with this technology," he said. "But so is the threat to our privacy and freedom."

Last year, Morris supported a bill that became the first U.S. law to make it a Class C felony to intentionally scan someone's RFID chip remotely without the person's knowledge and consent. That law is limited to surreptitious scanning, or skimming, for fraud or identity theft.

This marks the second year in a row that California has been one step ahead of the game when it comes to privacy and RFID regulation: first with our state's banning of subcutaneous RFID implants by an employer into his/her employees, and then this year with the ban of "skimming" RFID information of another without their consent. The good news is that it appears other states, and some in Congress, have been paying attention.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe if you look into it you will find it is currently unlawful for anyone including people in Government to scann an ID chip without your consent accept with a court warrant. This type of Bill would actually legalize you being scanned by Government without you knowing while the bills supporters claim it protects liberties. This is what you get when we let Lawyers in Government.