Feeds

EU consults on RFID technology

Nothing too personal

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

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)

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Number crunching suggests Yahoo! US is worth less than nothing
China and Japan holdings worth more than entire company
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.