The European Commission has revealed a new logo for items that include radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, to keep them compliant with EU data protection rules. The scheme is voluntary, but technology trade organizations like Germany’s BITKOM have signed up to promote its use.
RFID tags, used in everything from travel smartcards and keychains to consumer goods, are trackable at close range but also tiny and generally hidden. By bringing in the RFID logo, the idea is to make people aware when items they’re carrying can be tracked, and help them decide whether or not they want to buy items with smart chips inside them.
An awful lot of items use or will use RFID, because it’s very cheap to include, it allows for more efficient stock management and it helps fight stock theft. In that sense, the new standardized logo is also intended to help retailers – and healthcare and banking operations — avoid being in a legal “gray zone” around the technology.
According to outgoing EU digital chief Neelie Kroes:
“Smart tags and systems are part of everyday life now, they simplify systems and boost our economy. But it is important to have standards in place which ensure those benefits do not come at a cost to data protection and security of personal data.”
This isn’t just about the logo — indeed, the recommendations announced on Wednesday have been eight years in the making.
The Commission also wants retailers to deactivate stock-control RFID tags at the point of sale by default and for free, and said any company or public authority using smart chips should make it very clear what information is encoded in them and how it will be used. Such companies and authorities should also conduct privacy and data protection assessments before deploying the chips.
This article was updated at 5.45am PT to state that the scheme is voluntary (something that wasn’t clear from the Commission’s statement) and add further details about who has agreed to use the logo.