Bill Prohibits Illicit Use of RFID

OLYMPIA, Wash.—The Washington state Senate and House of Representatives have passed a bill to ban the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology as a means to collect personal data without the knowledge of the individual.

With the consent of Governor Chris Gregoire, Washington could become the first state in the nation to prohibit the gathering of personal data for malicious intent.

Criminals could potentially use a device to steal identities or target houses for burglary by collecting data transmitted by driver's licenses, credit cards, or other items with RFID tags, proponents of the bill, HB 1031, say.

"Without placing some reins on the scope of this technology now," said Rep. Jeff Morris (D-Mount Vernon), the legislative leader on this issue, "it could quickly spin out of control and lead to some ominous situations where consumers, unbeknownst to them, become the victim of identity theft or stolen property."

The bill would make it a Class C felony to scan another person’s identification remotely without his or her knowledge and consent, for the purpose of fraud, identity theft or other illegal purpose.

The legislation would have also required prior consent before stores or other entities would be allowed to collect personal data, but that provision was stripped out in the Senate. Morris has stated his intention to pursue that piece as separate legislation in the future.

The bill heads to the Governor's desk for final approval.

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