Time To Deal With RFID Concerns Is Now

Oct 13, 2004

By George Anderson

A report released last week by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), Radio Frequency Identification: Little Devices Making Big Waves, says RFID technology has the potential to deliver numerous benefits in the fields of science and commerce. However, these opportunities may never be realized should the government take up the call to enact legislation to safeguard consumers’ privacy before alternatives such as tag deactivation are communicated to the public, the report asserts.

The authors of the report, PPI vice president Robert Atkinson and policy assistant Julie Hutto, recommend government and industry work together to establish detailed standards for RFID technology.

“Industry should continue its efforts to educate consumers about RFID technology and to notify them when they purchase items with RFID tags,” said the authors in a released statement. “Government, in turn, should actively monitor industry efforts to develop and abide by a set of RFID self-regulatory best practices.”

PPI’s report recommends four guidelines for the implementation and eventual regulation of RFID technology.

  1. The government should wait to enact legislation until the benefits and drawbacks of the technology are better understood.
  2. Eventual regulations for RFID technology should be established at the federal level to avoid conflicts with state or local legislation.
  3. All users of RFID technology should use a single commercial standard.
  4. The Federal Trade Commission should work with industries using RFID technology to address privacy concerns.

Moderator’s Comments: Do you believe that calls for developing legislation to regulate the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology are
premature? What action needs to be taken on the part of those using RFID to achieve the full potential of the technology?

George Anderson – Moderator

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