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3/27/2008
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Washington State Gov. Signs RFID Privacy Protection Law

The law applies to RFID chips in identification cards, cell phones, and even running shoes, like those that Nike coupled with iPods so runners can log their mileage, pace, and calories burned.

Washington State has passed a law protecting consumer privacy by making it a felony to maliciously scan someone's identification remotely without their knowledge and consent.

Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire signed the bill into law this week. The law makes it a Class C felony to skim RFID chips without consent for fraud, identity theft, or other illegal purposes. It takes effect in July.

The bill's sponsor, Jeff Morris, said it's the first law of its kind in the United States. California is weighing similar measures, but they haven't been signed into law.

Morris, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, said he will continue to consider additional measures to stop companies from spying on consumers without their consent for marketing purposes.

"This is just one small step to stake out some boundaries around our individual consumer rights before it's too late," he said while announcing the bill signing.

The law applies to RFID chips in identification cards, cell phones, and even running shoes, like those that Nike coupled with iPods so runners can log their mileage, pace, and calories burned.

Morris warned that thieves could use RFID chips embedded in consumer products to scour a neighborhood using an RFID reader to find and target homes containing the most appealing products. He also said that police could use readers to obtain the identities of people in a mob situation, but he added that readers could capture innocent passersby as well.

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