States Look to Lock Down RFID

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 09-20-2006
In 2005, the actions of a small-town school district in Northern California set off a chain of events that could lead to ground-breaking legislation limiting the use of RFID in California and, if other states pick up the rallying call, across the nation.

Last year the Brittan Elementary School District in Sutter, Calif., required all its students to wear an ID badge implanted with a radio-frequency chip. The badges, which stored a 15-digit identifier for each student, were intended to be used as an attendance aid. Parents, however, were up in arms over the practice, which many said violated their kids' privacy rights.

As a result, state Sen. Joseph Simitian, a Democrat from Palo Alto, authored a bill introducing security and privacy measures around the use of radio-frequency identification—particularly in government ID documents. The bill is sitting on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk; he has until the end of September to either veto it or sign it into law.

Although there are many similar bills, California's is considered by many to be the one with standard-setting potential. "We think the bill draws the right lines," said Tim Sparapani, legislative council for the American Civil Liberties Union, in Washington. "RFID can be incredibly useful when shipping certain goods, but not when used to track people."

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Body Politics: States Look to Lock Down RFID Behavior