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A clutch of consumer, privacy, and civil liberties groups is calling for a voluntary moratorium on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging.

The 30 signatories to the petition are concerned about the privacy implications of RFID tags in consumer products.

Tiny RFID tags can be embedded in all kinds of consumer products and scanned from between two to three metres away, revealing information about the product and (potentially) its owner. Critics say the technology could reduce or eliminate purchasing anonymity and could even threaten civil liberties.

Tesco ended a tagging trial at a Cambridge store in August, 2003 following a consumer boycott.

The groups behind the petition are requesting a voluntary moratorium on RFID tagging of consumer items "until a formal technology assessment process involving all stakeholders, including consumers, can take place".

Signatories to the petition include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, Privacy International and UK think tank the Foundation for Information Policy Research.

The petition, to which further signatories are invited, can be found here. ®

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