'Right to the silence of the chips' in the new EC Communication

By EDRi · July 1, 2009

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [„Recht auf das Schweigen der Chips“ in der neuen Mitteilung der EC | http://www.unwatched.org/node/1452]

A new communication from the European Commission to the other European
bodies on the RFID (radio-frequency identification) titled “Internet of
Things – An action plan for Europe” was made public on 18 June 2009.

The communication builds on the work of the Recommendation on the use of
RFID published on 12 May 2009 after a fifteen-month period of consultations.
The communication includes a 14-point action plan to address the main issues
raised from the RFID usage as discussed in the working group and in the
consultation period.

One of the most important action point is the launch of “a debate on the
technical and legal aspects of the ‘right to silence of the chips’, which
has been referred to under different names by different authors and
expresses the idea that individuals should be able to disconnect from their
networked environment at any time.”

This is one of the main actions of the plan in order to allow the usage of
the RFID while respecting privacy and the protection of personal data, two
fundamental rights of the EU.

The communication underlines that these rights will have an influence on how
the Internet of Things is conceived but, at the same time, its development
will affect the way we understand privacy.

The European Commission also announced that in 2010 it intends to publish a
broader Communication on privacy and trust in the ubiquitous information

The Communication makes it clear that “simply leaving the development of
Internet of Things to the private sector, and possibly to other world
regions is not a sensible option.” Thus, the concept of governance of the
RFID usage will be initiated and promoted by the Commission in international
fora in order to establish a set of principles and to set up an
“architecture” with a sufficient level of decentralised management.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament:
Internet of Things – An action plan for Europe (18.06.2009)

EU lays out plans for the “internet of things” (18.06.2009)

EDRi-gram: RFID and Informed Consent – Using and removing of RFID
functionality (5.12.2007)

EDRi-gram: EU supports RFID with proper protection of consumers’ privacy