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Washington State Representative Introduces RFID Legislation

If passed, House Bill 1031 would impose rules on how companies could deploy RFID and retain personal information gathered via the technology.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Feb 23, 2007Washington Representative Jeff Morris (D) has introduced legislation, House Bill 1031, that would place restrictions on how RFID technology could be deployed and used in the state. Dubbed the Electronic Bill of Rights, the legislation lists a number of rules designed to protect consumer privacy with respect to RFID. It says a person must first obtain consent from a consumer before it can "collect, maintain and disclose information gathered by an electronic communication device." The bill defines such a device as one that "passively or actively uses radio frequency identification technology in the 902-928 MHz frequency range or the 2.4 GHz frequency authorized by the Federal Communications Commission, or any subsequent frequency range authorized by the Federal Communications Commission for radio frequency identification technology."

The bill stipulates that consumers have a right to expect "a person selling or issuing an electronic communication device will implement security measures to ensure that any personal information stored about their consumers is secure."

Rep. Jeff Morris
The proposed legislation also states: "Any person who sells or issues an electronic communication device that has not been disabled, deactivated, or removed at the point of sale or issuance must use industry accepted best standards to secure the electronic communication device." However, it doesn't define what it means to "secure" such a device, nor does it specify the entity that would determine these industry-accepted best standards. According to Rep. Morris, the standard required to secure that electronic communication would need to be the best standard endorsed by the RFID industry at the time the particular tag in question was first brought to market. In a legal case, he says, the court would determine what that standard is or was by consulting industry experts.

In addition, the bill would enable consumers to seek damages from parties violating these rights.

HR 1031, introduced by Rep. Morris in early January, was sent to the House Technology, Energy and Communications Committee, which held a public hearing on the bill on Jan. 10 and another on Feb. 16, due to changes made to its wording. The Technology, Energy and Communications Committee must approve the current bill by Feb. 28 for it to be heard by the full House.

EPCglobal expressed opposition to the bill at these hearings, as did several telecommunications companies and a number of other technology organizations, including the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Healthcare Distribution Management Association. The bill has support from five other state representatives, as well as from consumer privacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). A number of women's advocacy groups also support the bill because of their concern that RFID devices could be used to track or stalk women as targets of abuse.

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