New website leads way in raising awareness of RFID

October 30, 2006

Brussels, October 2006

A new website launched by Informationsforum RFID aims to educate German consumers about the possible applications of radio frequency identification (RFID) in everyday life and consumer products.

Users can click on any category, ranging from 'refrigerator' to 'children' and 'mobile phones' to 'medicine' to read a short passage on how RFID is affecting people's lives in these areas.

Radio Frequency Identification is a method of identifying unique items using radio waves. Typically, a reader communicates with a tag, which holds digital information in a microchip.

Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. An RFID tag is an object that can be attached to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification using radio waves. Chip-based RFID tags contain silicon chips and antennas. Passive tags require no internal power source, whereas active tags require a power source.

Andrea Huber, the Head of Informationsforum RFID, said: 'We want to animate RFID for consumers to help them take a better look at it, and to become a resource for questions about RFID.'

Informationsforum RFID is also working with partners in the Netherlands (RFID Platform Nederland) and the UK (National RFID Centre), to raise public awareness and acceptance of RFID technology in their respective countries and ensure that RFID projects are implemented in a responsible manner..

The launch of the website, RFIDABC, comes hot on the heels of the results of a public consultation on RFID, organised by the European Commission. The consultation found that the public is under-informed and that privacy concerns about the use of radio frequency identity (RFID) systems need to be resolved to ensure that the technology is widely accepted and used to its full potential.

'In our first analysis of the results of the public consultation, the challenges are much clearer,' said Viviane Reding, the EU's Information Society Commissioner. 'We need to make considerably greater efforts to explain the risks and benefits of RFID to the wider public. It is no longer just a playground for technologists and lawyers.'

She outlined various steps to allay these concerns. These include the use of privacy-enhancing technologies, such as clear labelling of tags; and ensuring more transparency regarding the risks and opportunities of RFID.

'Technologists tell me that many of the privacy concerns are unfounded. Fine. If this is the case then I am sure we can win over public opinion by explaining where there are risks and where there are not,' Ms Reding argued.

She added that more than half of consultation respondents wanted the RFID industry to be governed through legislation rather than self-regulation.

The Commission plans to use the 2,200 responses to the consultation to decide how Europe can best benefit from RFID technology and how to tackle associated security and privacy issues.

The EU is expected to draft new RFID legislation next year.

For more information on RFIDABC, please visit:
http://rfidabc.de/

For more information on Informationsforum RFID, please visit:
http://www.info-rfid.de/

For more information on the Commission's Consultation on RFID, please visit:
http:///europa.eu.int/information_society /policy/rfid/index_en.htm

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2006
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