By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2007-09-06 Print this article Print

. Makes Another Run at RFID Regulation"> California legislators have voted once again to derail security and privacy issues with checks on RFID technology, this time with a bill that will prohibit the forced implantation of an identification device—including RFID chips and so-called chipless, invisible RFID tattoos—under the skin. The bill, passed by the California Senate 28-9 Aug. 30, has until mid-September to be signed into law or vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Given Californias size and political muscle, the bill could have an impact on radio-frequency identification legislation in other states. It also points to potential problems down the road for RFID.
The ban on coerced implantations of RFID chips, introduced by state Sen. Joe Simitian, is not the first RFID legislation to hit Schwarzeneggers desk. In October 2006, Schwarzenegger vetoed a separate bill proposed by Simitian that was designed to limit the use of RFID in state and local documents.
At the time, Schwarzenegger said he was "concerned that that the potential laws provisions [were] overbroad and may unduly burden the numerous beneficial new applications of contactless technology." He pointed to two areas of concern—that early legislation might limit innovation, and that the federal government, under the REAL ID Act, had not yet released new technology standards for government ID cards. Any legislation from California, he said, could impose requirements that would contradict federal mandates. Resistance to RFID lingers despite successes. Click here to read more. The REAL ID Act, attached as a rider on a military spending bill, was signed into law in 2005. It stipulates that all states must redesign their drivers licenses by 2008 to include a common machine-readable technology, a move many say signals the advent of a national RFID-chipped identification card. In March, after months of wrangling and anti-RFID protests from states, the Department of Homeland Security released its proposed regulations for Real ID. The preliminary regs—a good indication of the final regulations, due any time—call for states to utilize 2-D bar-code technology rather than RFID. With the Real ID question out of the way, a major part of Simitians battle to get this latest bill signed is put to rest. But there is still the question of squelching innovation that Schwarzenegger raised earlier. Those innovation concerns are not addressed in Simitians bill, but in separate bills that are still in Californias assembly. "This is one of five bills I have dealing with the use of RFID technology," said Simitian, in Sacramento, Calif. "As a Silicon Valley legislator [I believe] the technology is great, but you have to be thoughtful of when and where you use it." The additional four bills address different aspects of RFID implementation, and amount to the separated pieces of the original California bill. One calls for a three-year moratorium on the use of RFID in California drivers licenses. Another would put a similar three-year moratorium on the use of RFID in K-12 student identification cards. A third looks to mandate security and privacy provisions in RFID-chipped ID documentation required by state and local governments. That bill would do two things: Require that people are informed that the technology is present and spell out what citizens can do to protect their privacy, and impose technological requirements that amount to password protection and—in cases where personal information is on the chip—use of encryption and mutual authentication technologies. Another bill imposes criminal charges for skimming and unauthorized access to tags and the disclosure of codes that are in the encryption process. Page 2: Calif. Makes Another Run at RFID Regulation


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