Feeds

Europe adopts RFID privacy framework

For those who volunteer to use it

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Europe has adopted a new radio-frequency identification (RFID) privacy framework.

It won't come into effect for six months, and even then will be voluntary, but it does attempt to put the European citizens' privacy onto the RFID agenda.

The "Privacy and Data Protection Impact Assessment Framework for RFID Applications" was published in January, having been in production for six months, and is now endorsed by the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) as the standard to which RFID deployments in Europe will be held to account – if they wish to be.

The document (24-page PDF/257 KB, and remarkably soporific) was put together by the RFID industry – which recognises that public perception is against it – and the Article 29 Working Group, a committee of national data protection chiefs. Despite being voluntary it will be widely adopted, partly because compliance isn't particularly onerous and partly because public fears need allaying.

The Framework identifies four levels of RFID application, requiring different quantities of scrutiny. Level 3 is where personal data is stored on an RFID tag itself; Level 2 has the tag holding a database key linked to personal data. Level 2 and 3 both require a full audit.

Level 1 systems aren't linked to a person, but might be carried by a person and so require a mini-audit. Finally, Level 0 systems are attached to pallets, crates and so forth and have no privacy implications.

The audits, or Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs), to use the Framework's nomenclature, are carried out by the "RFID Application Operator". The PIA includes such things as checking each stage of transmission is suitably encrypted, thinking about how (and why) a miscreant might attack the system and how the system might be illegitimately utilised – basically the stuff any decent systems architect would do by habit.

The PIA is then presented to "the competent authorities"... perhaps; it is up to member states to decide who is competent and if presentation of a PIA is mandatory or simply has to be held by the deploying company for production on demand (realistically unlikely, until something goes wrong).

The Framework might help large companies focus on the privacy implications of their RFID deployments, and that's useful, but as every phone becomes an RFID Tag reader we can't help wondering if small-scale deployments won't be at greater risk of privacy abuse. Such systems will soon become incredibly cheap and easy to deploy, and will be open to exactly the kind of feature creep that creates security problems.

The EU Framework might prevent a major supermarket tracking the clothes you buy, but it won't stop the local gym recording which exercise machine you've been using, unless the local gym chooses to play along. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
4chan outraged by Emma Watson nudie photo leak SCAM
In the immortal words of Shaggy, it wasn't me us ... amirite?
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.