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EU agency zooms in on 'Flying 2.0'

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An EU cyber security agency has developed recommendations for the introduction of greater use of RFID technology in air travel.

The recommendations from ENISA (The European Network and Information Security Agency) focus on the greater use of RFID-based tags on luggage as well as the ongoing rollout of biometric chips in electronic passports.

ENISA's study identifies major security risks, as well as privacy, social and legal implications associated with the introduction of this technology. The report goes on to make policy and legal advice to policy makers while recommending areas of further research.

Every day around 28,000 flights occur in Europe, which adds up to ten million flights per year. Adding smart tags into this mix creates a whole new environment that is only just been considered. ENISA is recommending further research in areas such as data protection and privacy, usability, biometric authentication and managing trust.

Managed properly, technology offers a possible mechanism to smooth the flow of passengers through airports, reduce if not eliminate lost luggage problems and generally make the whole air travel experience more pleasant for both passengers and airport staff.

But if tech is handled badly then all sorts of problems could occur, including failure of the air travel procedures, passenger frustration and low social acceptance, violation of passenger privacy and even social exclusion. ENISA hopes its report will contribute towards flagging up possible problems well before they abrupt into the sort of angry confrontations beloved of airport reality TV shows.

ENISA looks forward to a future where the movement of travellers, airport staff, and luggage creates an "increasing, continuous interaction between smart devices "connected to each other via wireless or wired communication networks. This will involve sharing a significant amounts of sensitive information, which requires a policy rethink.

The EU security agency wants air transportation players (airlines, air traffic control. logistics firms and airports) to rethink existing business structures and introduce new business models as well as developing policies for data management and protection

The agency has also come up with a number of legal recommendations covering harmonisation of how data is collected by airport shops. Lastly, ENISA advises European Commission policymakers to mandate security and privacy impact assessment and trials of new technologies before their deployment.

More on ENISA's research on what it describes as Flying 2.0 can be found here. ®

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