Privacy concerns continued to dominate the legislative RFID landscape at the state level. So far, those who want to limit access to personal information seem to be prevailing.
Actions taken on three of four bills related to privacy issues sought to limit the scope of RFID. Texas lawmakers killed a plan to use RFID tags to nab people who weren’t paying enough car insurance. A school privacy bill to prevent school districts from forcing students to wear RFID tags in the Lone Star State moved one step closer to passage. A lawmaker in California introduced a bill that would ban the use of RFID in local and state government-issued identification documents to prevent identity theft and stalking.
One California bill took a different approach. Instead of linking RFID to a possible violation of rights, it treats the technology as a way to extend the rights of the visually impaired. A change to an existing law would allow RFID into systems that help the visually impaired make payments with video touch screens.
In the States
Plan to fine people lacking vehicle insurance crashed
The Texas Legislature recently cut a provision in a transportation bill that could have helped auto insurance companies do more business, but also protect crash victims. As introduced, H.B. 2893, authored by Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman), stated that the Texas Department of Transportation would have to issue inspection stickers to be affixed to all motor vehicles inspected in the state. The RFID tags in the stickers would store identification information about individual vehicles. As people drove by, roadside readers would verify each vehicle owner’s insurance information by reading the tags. The stricken provision called for a $250 ticket to be mailed to any vehicle owner whose insurance coverage had expired or was inadequate.
Student privacy bill passed
The Texas House Committee on Public Education unanimously passed H.B. 2953, which would prohibit public school districts from requiring students to wear RFID tags to identify them, transmit information about them, or track their location. While school districts can’t force students to wear the tags, with parental permission, a student may wear an RFID tracking tag. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), also says that any school district that permits voluntary use of RFID tags for tracking students must offer alternative forms of identification for students if their parents or guardians object in writing. Status: Placed on the calendar for a vote by the full House.
RFID proposed to help the visually impaired make payments
A.B. 1489 would modify existing law. Whenever a point-of-sale system that requires customers to input a personal identification number is changed to include a video touch screen or non-tactile keypad, it must include a special keypad that enables visually impaired persons to complete their purchases. The bill, authored by Assemblyman Ron Calderon (D-58th Dist.), would permit RFID to be used instead of the special keypad to allow visually impaired persons to access the video touch screen and make transactions with the same amount of privacy others enjoy. Status: Passed the Committee on Banking and Finance. Now up for a vote by the full Senate.
Bill would ban RFID in local and state government-issued ID cards S.B. 682 would prohibit the embedding of RFID tags in state-issued identification documents, such as drivers’ licenses, state ID cards, library cards, or health insurance or benefit cards. Unauthorized use of RFID to scan an individual’s identification document is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, a year in jail, or both. Sen. Joe Simitian (D-11th Dist.) introduced the bill to address privacy advocates’ concerns that easy access to personal information found on drivers’ licenses and other forms of state ID have led to more identity theft. In 2003, more than 39,000 Californians were victims of identity theft. The bill provides for some exceptions, permitting RFID chips to be imbedded in identification documents used by prisoners, and patients in certain types of state-run health care facilities. It also requires removal of the tag upon discharge. The bill makes some exceptions. It permits the use of RFID for toll collection, and to secure access to public buildings. Status: Passed the Judiciary Committee and is in the full Senate.
Bill to protect personal information pronounced dead
When the 40-day South Dakota Legislative session ended, H.B. 1136 was pronounced “dead upon adjournment.” The bill would have required anyone collecting or disseminating personal identifiable information, such as a Social Security number or driver’s license number, from another person via RFID to: (a) obtain written permission from the subject; (b) allow the signatory to have access to his or her information; and (c) ensure that the information collected is secure. It is unlikely that the bill will be reintroduced this session.
This article originally appeared in the June 2005 issue of RFID Operations.