News

EU Calls for RFID Privacy Enhancements

Ubiquitous RFID chips can reveal lots of private info, so EU may regulate their manufacture if vendors don't step up with their own efforts.

(Brussels, Belgium) Europeans need to be reassured that radio frequency identification chips won't betray their privacy and can be turned off if desired, EU Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding said Monday.

RFID chips can be used to automatically identify and verify passports, luggage, livestock or pharmaceuticals and have a wide range of potential uses -- from telling doctors what medicines patients have been given to instantly pointing out food that is past its sell-by date.

But Europeans are worried about whether the chips will unwittingly broadcast people's personal information, Reding said at a conference in Brussels.

The European market for RFID is growing at a slower pace than in other regions even though countries such as Germany already insert the chips into passports. The United States is incorporating the technology in passports as well.

Reding said European industry and regulators have to respond better to people's privacy concerns. She said this was clear from groups and individuals who had responded to a recent EU call for comments on ways to go forward with RFID.

"The large majority are willing to be convinced that RFID can bring benefits but they want to be reassured that it will not compromise their privacy," she said. "This is the deal that we have to strike if we want RFID to be accepted and widely taken up."

She said people need to keep control of how their information is used and updated -- and how the tags can be turned off.

"Clear labeling of tags or the option to disable or destroy them electronically will be an important part of our protective armor," Reding said. "The consultation shows that people are mainly afraid of losing control, of not being able to choose when and how they are exposed to risks."

Only 15 percent of the 2,190 groups and individuals who answered the EU survey thought the industry's efforts to regulate itself would be enough.

The European Commission could put forward a draft law on the subject in 2007.

Featured

  • introimage

    Microsoft Reverses Even More on Windows Recall

    Recall, a new Windows 11 feature designed to "retrace users' steps," won't be seeing the light of day anytime soon.

  • Image of a futuristic maze

    The 2024 Microsoft Product Roadmap

    Everything Microsoft partners and IT pros need to know about major Microsoft product milestones this year.

  • Microsoft To Wind Down Copilot Pro's 'GPT Builder' Feature

    Subscribers of Microsoft's Copilot Pro solution will lose access to a key perk starting next month.

  • Windows Server 2025 GPU Improvements Promise Major AI Support

    Currently in public preview, Windows Server 2025 is shaping up to be a major beneficiary of Microsoft's wide-ranging collaboration with chip giant Nvidia.