ICO spells out correct use of RFID

Businesses must ensure complete transparency in their use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, including telling people how to disarm the tags, according to guidance from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

The UK watchdog is worried about how this new technology will impact on people's privacy and has issued two pieces of guidance to alleviate such fears and ensure that organisation adhere to common standards.

Although they are still in relative infancy, RFID tags are being used in a number of sectors to improve supply chain efficiency and operational efficiency.

Despite the obvious benefits those involved in RFID trials have experienced thus far, the ICO is concerned that issues will occur when the technology starts to extend beyond today's realms.

Suggested applications for RFID in the short or longer term include monitoring staff and implanting tags under the skin for certain access scenarios. This may lead to either the tag itself or a connecting database holding information about the individual.

If personal data is collected, the organisation responsible must tell people that this is the case and what it will be used for, in addition to detailing how to disable the tags if this information is warranted. Furthermore, the data must not be held for longer than necessary.

"Some RFID applications will necessarily involve the collection and storage of personal information, but this should not be a cause for concern as long as the principles of data protection are upheld and fully understood by those using the technology," said assistant commissioner Phil Jones.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.