We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
 
74,953 News Articles

EC to investigate RFID privacy concerns

Is Big Brother watching us?

Legislation may be required to regulate the widespread use of RFID (radio frequency identification) tags. That's according to the EC (European Commission) which has announced the beginning of a public inquiry to identify citizens' concerns about the technology.

RFID tags are increasingly being used to track inventory in supermarkets, or to authenticate and encode information in national identity documents. Each tag contains a unique serial number that can be read by an electronic device at distances ranging from a few millimetres up to several metres. By associating the serial number with information contained in databases, the tags can be used to provide personal information on the bearer of an identity document or the full manufacturing and shipping history of a consumer product, perhaps even including who bought it and when.

The EC is concerned about the personal privacy and security issues raised by such applications, and intends to hold a series of workshops in Brussels through June to canvas public opinion on the subject. The results of the workshops will be incorporated into a consultation document due to be published in September.

Protection of personal information in electronic form is already the subject of a European law, the e-Privacy Directive. If the Commission identifies new threats to European Union citizens' privacy from RFID and determines that legislation is required to protect them, then it will consider revising that directive, it said.

RFID is also a European issue for other reasons. Laws allowing for the free movement of goods around the EU would be worthless if tags on packaged foods from Poland, say, were unreadable by scanners in Portugal, as supermarkets would not be able to track their inventory. The Commission is also considering legislation on technology standards and radio spectrum allocation to ensure the harmonisation of tag technology across the EU.

Dell XP Migration SMB
Dell XP Migration SMB
IDG UK Sites

Lytro Illum release date, price and specs: Light field camera goes 3D

IDG UK Sites

Tim Cook says Apple aims to be best, not first, hinting that iWatch is coming

IDG UK Sites

Twitter - not news

IDG UK Sites

Fun film festival trailer plays with classic movie scenes