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Washington State Rep Reintroduces RFID Legislation

Three bills currently being reviewed by the state's House of Representatives would require retailers to place warning labels on products containing RFID tags, and to obtain opt-in signatures from consumers issued RFID-enabled loyalty cards.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 13, 2009The Washington State House of Representatives is reviewing a package of bills this week that would require greater disclosure on the part of RFID technology end users, in order to alert consumers as to when the technology is being used. This is the second time such legislation has made the rounds in that state; similar legislation failed to pass through Washington's senate last year.

In March 2008, however, the state passed the nation's first law, House Bill 1031, targeting criminals who might use an RFID reader to capture information regarding an individual by reading the tags in his or her possession. HB 1031 made it a Class C felony to read data on RFID tags without that individual's knowledge and consent, for the purposes of committing fraud, identity theft or other illegal activity (see Washington State Governor Signs Anti-Skimming Law).

Wash. State Representative Jeff Morris
Both last year's bill and the newly introduced legislation were sponsored by Rep. Jeff Morris (D-Mount Vernon). Two of the three 2009 bills, HB 1006 and HB 1011, would require manufacturers and stores to notify consumers whenever RFID chips are embedded in products they purchase—or in the packaging of those items—and to provide consumers who apply for an RFID-enabled loyalty card with a printed notice they would read and sign to indicate they understand there is an RFID chip embedded in that card. A public hearing in the House Committee on Technology, Energy and Communications is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Much of the language in HB 1006 and HB 1011 was included in an early version of HB 1031 that the House passed in 2008, but that was subsequently rejected by the Senate. Some of the language that led to the bill's rejection—including a requirement that all RFID tags be disabled or removed from products when consumers purchased an item—has been removed from the new legislation, Morris says.

This year, Morris notes, the bills are more likely to pass because the Senate has gained a better understanding of RFID technology since 2008, and will have more time to review the bill before voting.

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