Sunday, October 15, 2006

Schwarzenegger Vetoes California RFID Bill

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has quietly vetoed a bill that would have ensured that state use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags in drivers’ licenses and library cards would contain privacy safeguards. The Identity Information Protection Act (SB 768) was buried in a list of 73 bills the governor vetoed September 30.

Schwarzenegger said in a statement that the legislation might contradict federal mandates for government ID cards that are yet to be released, and he echoed concerns of the RFID industry that it would discourage uses of the technology that could “enhance and streamline operations, reduce expenses, and improve customer service to the public and may unnecessarily restrict state agencies,” the online publication eWeek reported October 4.

SB 768 would have required the California Research Bureau to conduct a study on RFID security and privacy issues and specified interim rules for state agencies, including libraries, to follow if the technology is used before the bureau issued its report. The American Civil Liberties Union and consumer groups had hoped California’s example would lead other states to enact similar laws to limit the use of RFID technology to protect privacy and security rights, said eWeek.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), said he would reintroduce the measure in the legislature’s next session. “Do we really want state and local governments requiring members of the public to carry identification documents that broadcast their personal information without their knowledge or consent?” he asked in a statement. “I think most Californians will be skeptical of such a notion, and understandably so.”

SOURCE: American Library Association

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