RFID users say no privacy law needed

Friday, 16 July 2004, 3:53 PM EST

A U.S. law enforcing privacy rules for radio frequency identification (RFID) isn't needed because companies experimenting with the technology are committed to protecting privacy, two such corporations told a U.S. House subcommittee yesterday.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. continues to move forward with plans for case- and pallet-level tagging of products with RFID chips. But most item-level tagging, where individual products are identified with RFID chips, is about 10 years away, Linda Dillman, executive vice president and CIO of Wal-Mart, told the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection.

But others at the hearing noted that Wal-Mart conducted product tests on lipstick in an Oklahoma store in early 2003, prompting Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) to question whether consumers were adequately warned of the tests. With the potential to use RFID chips in passports and other government identification, as well as consumer products such as clothing, the misuse of RFID tracking raises "seriously Orwellian concerns," she said.

By Grant Gross at Computerworld.

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