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California Lawmarker Pushes for RFID Law

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California State Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Redondo Beach, introduced a bill yesterday meant to address consumer privacy concerns related to the commercial use of radio frequency identification technology.

State Senate Bill 1834 states: "This bill would require a person or entity that uses radio frequency identification (RFID) systems to comply with certain conditions, including obtaining an individual's written consent before attaching or storing personally identifiable information with data collected via an RFID tag or before any personally identifiable information collected via an RFID system is shared with a third party. The bill would make a violation of the bill an act of unfair competition that is subject to specified enforcement provisions, including actions brought by the Attorney General or a district attorney or city attorney."

The bill would apply to any business or state government agency using RFID systems to track merchandise or people -- an activity that's on the rise.

The bill proposes that businesses and agencies be required to notify people that they're using an RFID system that can track and collect information about them. It would also require consumers to give express consent before businesses or agencies could track and collect information about them via RFID. Lastly, the legislation requires retailers to detach or destroy RFID "tags" on merchandise before consumers leave the store with it.

Privacy concerns over RFID began to surface last year when retailers began testing the technology in stores. Consumer advocates fear such systems could lead to surveillance on an unprecedented scale.
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