EU drafts guidelines for RFID technologies

The European Union released guidelines for the use of RFID chips, but stopped short of issuing regulations for the technology.

The European Commission has sketched out guidelines designed to help get RFID (radio frequency identification) technologies up and running in the European Union, but stopped short of proposing formal legislation in the area.

The Commission said Thursday that it has drawn up a draft text that aims to help the makers of RFID technology, as well as potential users, introduce the technology without harming privacy rights.

The Commission recommends that producers of RFID chips conduct a privacy assessment before marketing their wares, while industries that plan to use the chips should sign up to a code of conduct outlining how the chips should be used. Industries using RFID technology should agree on a symbol to attach to the goods that carry the chips to alert customers to their presence, the Commission proposed. It also suggests that the chips should deactivate automatically at the point of purchase.

RFID chips used with perishable items such as milk could alert consumers if products go bad, but such a service should be optional, said Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr.

"You should be able to decide whether to allow your milk carton to communicate with your fridge, for example," he said at a news conference.

The Commission has opened an eight-week consultation, which ends April 25, with interested parties, including industry, consumer and privacy groups. It hopes to adopt the recommendations in the summer.

Ensuring that the potentially invasive technology respects people's right to privacy is essential if it is to take off, Selmayr said.

"The new technology will only take off in a sound environment where data protection is safeguarded," he said.

RFID could revolutionize logistics operations by allowing companies to trace their goods from the factory to the shop shelf.

Three kinds of RFID chips are currently in use in Europe:

-- Passive RFID tags do not need a power supply of their own; the minute tension induced from a radio frequency signal emitted by the reader is sufficient to activate their circuit and to send out short digital information streams in response. Typically, this information includes a unique identification number that points to an entry in a data base.

-- Semi-passive RFID tags have built-in batteries and do not require energy induced from the reader to power the microchip. This allows them to function with much lower signal power levels and over greater distances than passive tags. They are, however, considerably more expensive.

-- Active RFID tags have an on-board power-supply, usually a battery, of their own. This allows for more complex circuits to be powered and for more functionality.

Six-hundred million RFID tags, almost all passive, were sold in the E.U. in 2006, according to Commission research. That is predicted to rise to around 300 billion by 2016, the Commission said.

More information on the RFID issue can be found at the Commission's Web site.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Meller

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?