Radio frequency identification technology targeted, again

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Jan. 25, 2007 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) has introduced a new package of bills aimed at either banning or statutorily regulating the use of the technology known as "Radio Frequency Identification" (RFID).

RFID is being implemented worldwide due to the ability to offer more privacy protections that older, outdated technologies cannot match. Additionally, the technology helps manufacturers drastically reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve the accuracy of information.  Increasingly, many government organizations are using these technologies in their government-issued identification documents to protect the security and privacy of individuals and to achieve considerable savings to taxpayers.

Two of Senator Simitian's four-bill package ban the use of RFID technology in the issuance of driver's licenses (SB 28) and bar public schools from using RFID technology to track pupil attendance (SB 29).

SB 30, the Identity Information Protection Act of 2007, contains the most far reaching provisions.  It seeks to establish in statute specific security requirements for identification cards/documents issued by public entities that use radio waves to transmit data or enable data to be read remotely. While not limited to identification access cards for buildings, these may be the most common use targeted by the bill.

The final component of this package, SB 31, addresses privacy and security concerns of identification documents or personal information that are often stored on RFID cards. The bill targets "skimming", the intentional act of remotely reading (or attempting to remotely read) a person's identification document. While it is unclear whether skimming is a problem or how widespread it is, this legislation may be preferable to banning or regulating the technology itself.

CMTA typically opposes statutory bans or regulations of specific technologies because of the ever changing nature of new technologies. This kind of legislation often gives preference for a specific technology, excluding the possibilities for future research and development on the issue. CMTA prefers that the legislature address specific cases of bad behavior and promote industry and consumer best practices.

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