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Washington State Considers RFID Restrictions

The Electronic Bill of Rights would outlaw collection, storage, and disclosure of information gathered through radio frequency identification technology without notifying consumers.
Washington state lawmakers are considering restrictions on RFID technology.

Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Olympia, has introduced an Electronic Bill of Rights that would outlaw collection, storage, and disclosure of information gathered through radio frequency identification technology without notifying consumers. The bill states that all companies using active and passive RFID devices would have to either disable the devices or gain consumer consent. It would prohibit companies from requiring RFID tags for service or refunds. It would also prohibit people and companies from scanning or reading the devices to identify consumers without first obtaining consent.

Companies using information from RFID also would have to use now-undefined industry standards to secure information. The state's attorney general could impose $10,000 in civil penalties for each violation and triple the total in some cases.

Morris modified the bill to exclude provisions that would have outlawed linking personal information with other information gathered from the devices, prohibited third-party disclosure, allowed for criminal prosecution, and allowed consumers to request any information stored about them.

The bill is in committee. Several groups -- including software companies, transit coordinators, and health care workers -- oppose it, stating that the bill places unfair burdens on an industry to solve problems better addressed through broad consumer protection rules and engineering. Some privacy groups support the bill.