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Opting in into consumer protection


29 Apr 2009


Health & Consumers

The European Commission is expected today to adopt a Recommendation on privacy, data protection and information security in RFID applications. ANEC calls for consumers to be properly protected from risks to their privacy and security through implementation of the ‘opt-in’ principle. Not all RFID applications raise concerns or even affect consumers. However, consumers should not be obliged to ask for the RFID tag to be deactivated at the point of sale in order to avoid risks of being tracked or profiled.

This should be done by default if consumers are to have trust in RFID.

Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) is a technology for the transmission of data stored on a microchip. As the technology is ‘contactless’, data can be read remotely from within the local geographical environment of the microchip. ANEC believes consumers should be informed of
the presence of the RFID tag by a clearly understandable sign, accessible to all consumers. “In order to avoid consumer confusion and ensure harmonisation, we believe European Standards should be developed to support common European signage” said ANEC Secretary-General,
Stephen Russell.

“Furthermore, Privacy Impact Assessments should be conducted before the deployment of RFID applications in order to assess the risks to which consumers are likely to be exposed.

The results of such assessments should be made public. Again, we think European Standards should be developed in order to ensure a high-level of consumer protection and a level playing field for RFID operators” he added.
ANEC also believes RFID technologies pose risks to health and the environment. As RFID technologies will significantly increase personal exposure to Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) elements, ANEC considers new exposure assessment procedures are needed to test compliance with safety guidelines. Moreover, further research is required to assess the potential risks to health that can arise from the application of RFID technologies.

29 April 2009
European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation, AISBL
Av. de Tervueren 32, box 27 – B-1040 Brussels, Belgium - phone +32-2-743 24 70 - fax +32-2-706 54 30
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