Declan McCullagh has written an interesting piece on Cnet arguing that regulators hold back on regulating RFID (yet). I agree with a lot of his points, and as I have argued in an article I wrote earlier this year (What’s the frequency – are RFID tags a threat to privacy) if implemented sensibly the use of RFID could make all our futures brighter. However, whilst wholesale regulation of RFID would certainly be a mistake, much of the regulation that has been suggested is not going to adversely affect the roll out of RFID. McCullagh says states such as Utah and Missouri want to make it illegal to used RFID tags on products unless consumers are informed about them. This is common sense to me. Unlike the barcode, which McCullagh also mentions RFID tags can be small enough to be undetectable, so that just looking at an item may not be enough to ascertain whether a tag is present or not. Virtually all the suggested laws are aiming to make sure item are labelled correctly, hardly constraining the industry.
That said, I take McCullagh’s point that the industry should be given the opportunity to prove it can police itself first. It seems likely that most businesses are not going to go out of their way to annoy their own customers, and instead will want to win them over to the benefits of RFID.
I would still like to see legislation – if only to clarify what things should not under any circumstances be tagged, such as its use in paper money (but this is a personal view).