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US state outlaws RFID data theft

Card crackers shown red

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US legislators are clamping down on the use of RFID technologies to steal personal data as cards using the technology become more ubiquitous.

Washington state governor Chris Gregoire this week signed a bill which will make data theft by RFID illegal and punishable with up to 10 years in jail.

The bill was signed in response to the growing use of RFID tags in the state, ranging from driver ID cards to company ID cards and retailers' loyalty cards.

The legislation is intended to prevent criminals using RFID readers to gain information from those cards without the owner's knowledge.

State Representative Jeff Morris, who sponsored the bill, told Computerworld, "If I take an RFID card from work or the grocery store, I should know that it's protected, and someone else can't read that card to get my identity, steal from me or stalk me...Our intent was to put some basic rules of the road in place."

Morris conceded that his bill had been watered down before it was passed. It becomes law in July this year.

Earlier this month, European security researchers claimed they had cracked the encryption used on the Mifare Classic, a wireless card made by Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors, which is used by transport networks including Transport for London, amongst others.®

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