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EPCglobal Appoints Policy Chief

EPCglobal has named Elizabeth Board, a veteran public relations executive who worked in the Reagan White House, to head up a new public-policy steering committee.
By Mark Roberti
Tags: Standards
Jun 28, 2004EPCglobal, the nonprofit organization set up to commercialize Electronic Product Code technology, has named Elizabeth Board to head up a new public-policy steering committee composed of members from industry trade associations, consumer products companies, retailers and standards organizations. The committee's job will be to promote adoption of guiding principles for how EPC technology will be used and to educate the public and stakeholders about the technology.
Elizabeth Board

The principles were developed by the International Public Policy Advisory Council, created by the Auto-ID Center (the forerunner to EPCglobal) and headed by Elliot Maxwell, a fellow of the Center for the Study of American Government at Johns Hopkins University. The advisory council will continue to reach out to privacy groups and advise EPCglobal subscribers and members of the public-policy steering committee on policy issues. The steering committee will work on implementing policies and educating the public and governments around the world.

Board is a veteran public relations executive who spent 30 years in Washington, D.C., including four years in the Reagan White House, where she was deputy assistant to the president for media relations. She spent two years running the television office and two years working with journalists from around the country who were not part of the regular Washington press corp.

Board later handled public relations for the Distilled Spirits Council of United States, the trade association of the liquor industry, and then was VP of global corporate communications at AC Nielson. She worked in corporate communications at Reader’s Digest and then returned to Washington as a consultant before being hired as the director of EPCglobal’s public-policy steering committee.

While she had little knowledge of RFID and EPC prior to taking the job, she says that she understands the concerns about privacy that the technology has raised. "The goal of the steering committee is to ensure that EPC technology is deployed responsibly," she says. "It's very clear to me that the industry is very motivated to handle the technology responsibly."

The steering committee has been meeting face-to-face every other month and has conducted regular conference calls. Much of the focus has been on developing the language that will be used to educate people about the public-policy guidelines already established by EPCglobal (see EPC Privacy Principles to Evolve). Board's main responsibilities will be to identify important public-policy issues that the committee needs to address and to educate key constituents.

Several state legislatures in the United States have introduced bills aimed at protecting consumer privacy. Board says the steering committee will be working closely with legislators around the country. "One of the key objectives of the public-policy steering committee is sharing information with and educating leading stakeholders in all sectors," she says. "Clearly, state legislators are stakeholders."

EPCglobal has not released the names of companies that have representatives on the steering committee, but Board says companies from a number of industries, including retail, consumer products goods manufacturing and pharmaceutical manufacturing, are represented on the committee and that the diversity of the group was one of the things that attracted her to the job. "The issues are very different for healthcare versus consumer packaged goods," she says. "That's going to be a challenge, but it's also one of the things that's appealing about the job."

Board’s appointment is a permanent full-time position, but she acknowledges that her role as a full-time director and public spokesperson on policy issues may not be needed once the education of the public and policy-makers is complete. "Having a public-policy steering committee will always be important," she says. "But if this job is done really well, [the role of a full-time public-policy tsar] won't last forever."

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