Feeds

Europe adopts RFID privacy framework

For those who volunteer to use it

The Power of One Infographic

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. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.