Feeds

EU consults on RFID technology

Nothing too personal

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

The EU is developing privacy guidelines for the use of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology. A European Commission advisory group, known as a Article 29 Working Party, is conducting a public consultation on the emerging technology.

RFID tags are small microchips attached to an antenna which emit a unique serial number by radio over short distances. Miniature 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. The issue becomes even more acute with plans to put RFID tags into identity cards.

The EU aims to ensure its data protection directives whenever personal data are collected using RFID technology. It wants to give guidance to manufacturers and to RFID standardisation bodies, to ensure that they develop privacy-compliant products.

RFID technology offers numerous benefits to business. It can help retailers manage their inventory, enhance consumers' shopping experience as well as allow better control access by persons to restricted areas. But it also comes with serious privacy drawbacks, an EU working paper notes.

"The ability to surreptitiously collect a variety of data all related to the same person; track individuals as they walk in public places (airports, train stations, stores); enhance profiles through the monitoring of consumer behaviour in stores; read the details of clothes and accessories worn and medicines carried by customers are all examples of uses of RFID technology that give rise to privacy concerns."

The privacy implications of RFID chips go beyond cases where unique serial numbers are linked to an identity, the EU says. "Even if the individual is not immediately and directly identified at the item information level, he can be identified at an associative level because of the possibility of identifying him without difficulty via the large mass of information surrounding him or stored about him."

Unwanted individual tracking, without a link to the identity of the data subject, also falls within the scope of the Data Protection Directive. Because of this data protection rules apply to many RFID applications, the working paper concludes.

Interested parties are invited to submit comments before 31 March 2005. ®

Related stories

RSA looks ahead on RFID security
EU biometric RFID scheme unworkable, says EU tech report
MSN Belgium to use eID cards for online checking

External links

Working document on data protection and RFID technology (PDF)

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.