Group tells FTC more RFID security guidance is needed

Published 26 September 2008

As RFID technology proliferates, so do worries about its potential for violating people’s privacy. the Federal Trade Commission is charged with protecting consumers, and privacy advocates urge it to take a close look at RFID

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is spreading, and with it worries about its potential for violating people’s privacy. The federal agency charged with protecting consumers should tighten regulation surrounding RFID technology, an industry group urged this week. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) proposed a number of measures at the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC)  Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Workshop on Consumer Privacy and Data Security held Tuesday in Washington.

At the workshop, which included industry representatives, government officials, and consumer advocates from Europe and the United States, the FTC examined new concerns about the use of the technology. “Part of the discussion was about what sort of laws or protections might be needed and what kind of privacy concerns people had,” Hugh Stevenson, deputy director of FTC Office of International Affairs told’s Angela Moscaritolo Wednesday.

Among the guidelines EPIC proposed, RFID operators should make RFID tags and readers visible to customers and should alert customers through a tone, light or other signal when information is being drawn. Tags should be easy to remove and should be anonymous and not collect personal information of customers, if possible. “We think the FTC has a role to play in safeguarding consumer privacy,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC, told EPIC also proposed that RFID operators be prohibited from tracking the movement of RFID subjects without written consent, or using them to snoop on an individual or coercing individuals to keep tags turned on after purchase.

The FTC is currently taking comments about RFID technology, which can be submitted through its Web site until 23 October.