California Enacts Law Banning

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2007-10-15 Print this article Print

Forced Human RFID Tagging "> The bill also imposes technological requirements that amount to password protection and, in cases where personal information—such as HIV-positive status or a telephone number—is present on the chip, encryption and mutual authentication technologies have to be utilized. SB 31 imposes criminal charges for skimming and unauthorized access to tags and the disclosure of codes that are in the encryption process. The remaining bills are awaiting action when the legislature reconvenes in January, according to Simitian.
Not everyone supported SB 362. Simitian said he was not able to garner any industry support for the bill; manufacturers and technology trade associations balked at backing it.
"I really did think it was both unfortunate and regrettable that we couldnt get any industry support on this bill," Simitian said. "While we did not have any formal opposition, we did have behind-the-scenes efforts to derail the bill by one manufacturer." Click here to read about why RFID is only slowly catching on for industrial use. While several industry consortiums, such as the AEA (American Electronics Association), HID Global and ITAA (Information Technology Association of America), oppose Simitians 2006 bill, a group thats organized itself under the rubric of AEA seems the most vociferous—or at least the most well-appointed. The High-Tech Trust Coalition is made up of some of the biggest players—technology companies, manufacturers, standard-setting bodies—in the RFID industry, including AIM Global, EDS, EPCGlobal, ITAA, Kimberly-Clark, National Semiconductor, Oracle, Texas Instruments, Symbol Technologies and Phillips Technologies. Roxanne Gould, senior vice president for California Government and Public Affairs with AEA, said that while the AEA is not opposed to Californias new law preventing forced tagging of individuals, the group is opposed to Simitians remaining bills. "We had no position on 362. But we dont agree with any effort that unfairly demonizes technology," said Gould, in Sacramento. "Technology is not inherently good or evil; it is how its used. We dont agree that anyone should be forced to use a chip. But at the same time there are uses where subcutaneous chips are highly useful—with Alzheimer patients or diabetes. Just because someone is chipped, we dont agree that its bad; we dont have a problem with the forced part. But we are opposed to the other bills that are still in play." While Simitian began looking into the use of RFID in government-issued documentation after an elementary school in Sutter, Calif., required its students to wear identification badges that contained RFID tags, it was really video surveillance company that spurred the current anti-implementation law. In 2006 required employees working in its secure data center to be implanted with RFID chips. Simitian said he figured it would only be a matter of time before others followed, particularly with state and local governments moving toward RFID-embedded identification documents. "The issue that kept cropping up with people we spoke with was that while RFID is wonderful for identifying a particular document, they can be easily exchanged or passed from one person to another," Simitian said. "The concern Ive had is I think there is an underlying pressure to go to implantation given the shortcomings and limitations of [RFID] documentation. The public wants us to get out in front of these potential privacy problems." In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration approved a human-implantable RFID chip that is manufactured by VeriChip. So far, VeriChip has chipped about 2,000 individuals. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.


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