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Lawmaker Targets RFID In Privacy Push

Washington State representative wants products that contain the chips clearly marked.
A Washington State representative has vowed to fight what he calls "spy technology" devices in a privacy push during 2009.

Rep. Jeff Morris, a Democrat, said Tuesday that he will fight the "malicious" use of RFID chips this year. He plans to propose a new package of consumer protection bills next week when the state's legislative session begins.

Morris said that RFID chips are proliferating in consumer products and government identification. While he acknowledges the benefits of the technology, he said consumers and citizens should remain in charge of who collects their personal information.

The lawmaker wants to ban intentional scans of people's identification documents without first gaining specific consent, except in cases of emergencies or court-ordered electronic monitoring. He also wants all products containing RFID chips to be marked clearly so consumers know which products contain them.

Morris said he predicts that business interests and corporate lobbyists seeking broader use of RFID chips will oppose his bills. The technology is not only used for supply tracking but it also can help businesses speed checkout, identify shoppers, and determine shoppers' locations within stores.

"The potential for marketing and convenience is great with this technology," he said. "But so is the threat to our privacy and freedom."

Last year, Morris supported a bill that became the first U.S. law to make it a Class C felony to intentionally scan someone's RFID chip remotely without the person's knowledge and consent. That law is limited to surreptitious scanning, or skimming, for fraud or identity theft.

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