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How the SAFETY Act Could Protect RFID Vendors

AIM Global recently held an interview with Raymond Biagini of national law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge. The interview was about the SAFETY Act and how it pertains to US RFID vendors that might be wise to protect themselves against liability stemming from terrorist acts involving their technology.
Jul 06, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

July 6, 2007—Automatic identification association AIM Global recently held an interview with Raymond Biagini, a leader of the Product Liability defense practice at national law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge. (McKenna Long & Aldridge also owns RFID Law Blog.) The interview was about the US SAFETY Act and how it pertains to US RFID vendors.

Biagini conceived and wrote the core provisions of the SAFETY Act in 2002, which was passed as a statute in November of that year. Essentially, the legislation is meant to protect vendors of anti-terror technology against lawsuits stemming from the presence of their products in a future terrorist act on US soil. If, for example, a bomb detonated that was originally snuck into the US via a cargo container, the container security vendor to the third-party logistics provider (3PL) that shipped the container might find itself sued for millions of dollars in damages.

Biagini asserts that the protections of the SAFETY Act are particularly pertinent to RFID vendors, since so many RFID applications are focused on protecting the flow of goods from security breaches. RFID is widely adopted as protection for pharmaceuticals, shipping containers, food, borders, and aviation, all of which are "high-value" terrorist targets, noted Biagini. "RFID would qualify as a coverable product under the SAFETY Act because RFID is, in fact, attempting to prevent or deter or mitigate or minimize an act of terrorism from occurring," he explained. "So, under the SAFETY Act those that supply RFID products and services are very good candidates for SAFETY Act coverage."

Biagini stated that to date no RFID vendor that has sought SAFETY Act coverage, a fact he attributes to lack of awareness.

There is an application process for vendors to become covered by the SAFETY Act. There is a written application that vendors fill out, detailing technological, financial, and insurance-related aspects of their solution. That application form is submitted to the SAFETY Act Office for review and potential approval. The review process typically takes about 120 days and could include the office requiring additional information from the applicant. Biagini indicated that the application form is rather involved, and many companies solicit lawyers for help filling it out. His firm claims to have gotten more vendors SAFETY Act coverage than anyone else in the country.

While McKenna Long & Aldridge would clearly benefit from a swell of RFID vendors seeking its assistance for SAFETY Act coverage, Biagini makes a compelling enough case that vendors would be wise to at least educate themselves further about the pros and cons.

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