RFID, EPCglobal Face Public Policy Challenges

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 10-18-2006

LOS ANGELES—There have been some serious public policy challenges to radio-frequency identification and, in turn, to EPCglobal, the standards-setting organization aligned to the supply chain side of RFID.

Those issues could impact the progress of EPC, the electronic product code and standards set forth by EPCglobal to accommodate technology and company-to-company communication around RFID data, according to Elizabeth Board, executive director of EPCglobal's Public Policy Steering Committee.

For more on RFID, read Gillette's Fusion Launch Makes a Good Business Case for RFID

"Without consumer acceptance [of RFID] this technology will never reach its full potential," said Board, who addressed a crowd of about 200 attendees at the EPCglobal US Conference here Oct. 17-19. "Our mission is to ensure [there is no] undue legislation or regulations that would slow technology."

Board pointed out that in 2005 there were 18 RFID bills in 17 states, and this year 15 bills in 10 states. While there have been some early successes for groups like EPCglobal—earlier this month California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger struck down an RFID bill that was considered by many to be a bellwether for the rest of the nation—the battle only promises to heat up as more citizens become aware of RFID and legislators push harder for laws limiting its use. Board predicts that 2007 will bring fewer new bills around RFID, but more intense battles as some legislation makes its second or even third pass with state lawmakers.

"That makes it tougher for us," said Board.

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