RFID Expert Group – Kick Off

By EDRi · June 6, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

Following the public consultations on RFID last year, the European
Commission announced the creation of an RFID Expert Group to assist in
drafting the future RFID strategy. The group’s kick-off meeting was held in
Brussles last week. EDRi was invited to participate in the group.

The Group has been established for two years and includes representatives
from the industry, standardisation bodies and the civil society. The EU data
protection authorities participate as observers.

In the past years digital rights organisations have continuously expressed
their strong concerns regarding the implications the usage of RFID may have
on privacy. The public consultation on RFID confirmed that these concerns
were shared by a majority of the respondents and that safeguards were needed
to ensure the protection of personal data and privacy.

RFID technology may be used to collect information on directly or indirectly
identified persons or to track and trace people’s movements in the workspace
and in public areas. Therefore privacy and security will be the first topics
the group will work on. Input from the group will be taken into account by
the European Commission when preparing a Recommendation on RFID usage, which
is planned to be issued by the end of 2007.

The work of the group will then broaden its scope and deal with the move
towards the “Internet of Things”. Giving every day objects a representation
on the Internet and building “smart” environments that react to the presence
or movements of people and things have been subjects of research in the last
years. Ambient Intelligence, Ubiquitous Computing, Pervasive Computing
and Smart Objects are keywords for the research specialists that often name
Mark Weiser’s article “The Computer for the 21st Century” as the starting
point for these ideas.

Privacy, environmental issues and the dangers stemming from the accumulation
of electromagnetic fields will certainly be among the issues that have to be
discussed with regards to this topic.

As a member of the RFID Expert Group, EDRi will promote the implementation
of privacy-friendly technologies and stress that the reliable protection of
privacy and personal data is a key issue for the acceptance of this

Mark Weiser already wrote back in 1991 with regards to Ubiquitous
Computing: “If designed into systems from the outset, these techniques can
ensure that private data does not become public. A well-implemented version
of ubiquitous computing could even afford better privacy protection than
exists today.” Sixteen years later this statement must still remain the
guideline for RFID applications. Key technologies that are said to have the
potential to become a new motor of growth and jobs need to be concordant
with and to protect the societal standards of the society.

In times of mandatory data retention, as communication traffic data has to
be stored for up to two years, it is important to ensure that only an
absolute minimum of data which can be linked to a certain personis stored.
Otherwise any movement in an RFID-enabled “smart” environment could feed
into a behaviour-profile of a potential future surveillance society.

The RFID Expert Group will make it their mission to discuss these and
related issues and to work out possible solutions and necessary regulatory
measures over the next two years; EDRi will contribute to this mission.

EDRI-gram: EU study on RFID tags shows major privacy concerns (25.10.2006)

EDRI-gram: Stakeholder group to advise on EU RFID strategy (28.03.2007)

Results of the Public Online Consultation on Future RFID policy – “The RFID
Revolution: Your voice on the Challenges, Opportunities and Threats”

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in Europe: steps towards a policy

Mark Weiser, The Computer for the 21st Century, Scientific American

(contribution by EDRI-member Andreas Krisch)