EU launches RFID initiative

Published 10 March 2006

RFID technology is moving forward at a furious pace. Large retailers and government organizations — for example, Wal Mart and the Pentagon in the United States — already insist that suppliers tag their merchandise with RFIDs so it can be better monitored through the supply chain. RFIDs will also play a major role various biometric IDs — driver licenses, passports, travel documents — now being planned or implemented around the world. RFIDs are already mandatory for cattle tagging in several countries, and will become mandatory in many more during the next three years as countries try to tackle deadly diseases. The technology has its problems, though, and the European Commission announced that it has launched a Europe-wide consultation on RFID technology. The Commission said the consultation would include industry, government agencies, and the public in an effort to allay concerns over privacy, technical interoperability, and international compatibility. “(RFID) networks and devices will link everyday objects into an ‘Internet of things’ that will greatly enhance economic prosperity and the quality of life,”said EU Information Society and Media commissioner Viviane Reding. “But as with any breakthrough, there is a possible downside — in this case, the implications of RFID for privacy.”