Washington State Closer To Making RFID Skimming A Felony

If signed, the proposed law would apply to all forms of the technology, whether it is embedded in credit cards or television sets.
Washington state could become the first in the nation to outlaw skimming personal information from RFID cards for malicious intent.

The state's Senate has passed a bill that if signed into law would make it a class C felony to collect personal information from RFID chips for malicious intent. The bill, announced Monday, would apply the ban to all forms of the technology, whether it is embedded in credit cards or television sets.

"Without placing some reins on the scope of this technology now, it could quickly spin out of control and lead to some ominous situations where consumers, unbeknownst to them, become the victim of identity theft or stolen property," Washington Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, said in a prepared statement.

However, before passing the bill unanimously by a vote of 47-0, the Senate stripped a provision that would have required consumer consent before stores or other groups could gather information from the chips for business purposes. Morris, who introduced the legislation, said he hopes introduce a separate bill in a second attempt to require consumer consent for data collection.

Another provision, which would have required labeling of products containing RFID, was removed to address the business community's concerns prior to the Senate vote.

The final version of the bill, HB 1031 (PDF), now awaits approval by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Other states are considering similar legislation, but Washington appears to be the first with bicameral support.

The California State Senate recently approved a bill outlawing skimming, but the state's lower house has yet to pass it. That measure provides exemptions for emergency workers, health care providers, and unintentional skimming.

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