Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): State Government Restrictions

(bill is proposed in New Hampshire, U.S., to place limits on RFID applications)

State-Government bill aims to restrict RFID applications.

Technological developments have advanced the science of identifying people and things in invisible ways. For better or for worse, consumers are leaving tracks that are useful to manufacturers and sellers of products who are seeking a database about their buyers.

New Hampshire could be a national leader in consumer privacy protection if legislation endorsed by the House Commerce Committee is adopted in January, 2006.

Prompted by worries that developing technologies that use radio waves to identify both physical objects and human beings are gaining popularity in big businesses such as Wal-Mart, House and Senate members have collaborated on the language for what could be the model for legislation of its kind in the nation.

Critics of the use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) computer tags by manufacturers or distributors to track the buying habits of people who purchase their products say they may seem benevolent enough now but there’s real potential for misuse down the road.

Defenders of the computer tags; tiny microchips that are embedded into a label attached to the products, say they promote efficiency by enabling retail outlets to maintain up-to-the-minute product inventories and speed up the checkout process for the customer (in some cases, the customer can avoid checking out altogether).

The bill:

  • Stipulates that no consumer product or identification document; such as, a credit card or ATM card to which a tracking device has been affixed, may be sold without a label containing a universally accepted symbol. The requirement also applies to packaging of the product.
  • Requires that identifying labels be affixed to the product or document or its packaging by the entity that implants the tracking device in the product or by the entity that imports products that contain tracking devices.
  • Prohibits anyone from implanting tracking devices into human beings without the informed consent of either the individual or a legal guardian.
  • Prohibits the state or any of its political subdivisions from issuing any radio frequency devices to track individuals, with exceptions such as incarcerated prisoners or residents of nursing or assisted-living facilities.
  • Establishes a commission on the use of tracking devices to study their usage in government and business and monitor their effect on the economy and society

  • Puts clout in the law by setting penalties for violations, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies.
—"Bill aims to slow RFID in its tracks", by Pat Hammond
in The Union Leader, New Hamshire; January 1, 2006.

List of Radio Frequency Identification or RFID articles.