Peter Hustinx, the European data protection supervisor, (EDPS) last month issued his Opinion on the Commission's communication on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in Europe. The Opinion deals with the growing use of RFID chips in consumer products and other new applications affecting individuals.

"RFID systems could play a key role in the development of the European Information Society," said Hustinx, "but the wide acceptance of RFID technologies should be facilitated by the benefits of consistent data protection safeguards. Self-regulation alone may not be enough to meet the challenge. Legal instruments may therefore be required to guarantee that the technical solutions to minimize the risks for data protection and privacy are in place."

More specifically, Hustinx calls on the Commission to consider the following recommendations:

  • The provision of a clear guidance, in close cooperation with relevant stakeholders, on how to apply the current legal framework to the RFID environment.
  • The adoption of a community legislation regulating the main issues of RFID usage in case the effective implementation of the existing legal framework fails.
  • Such measures should notably lay down the opt-in principle at the point of sale as a precise and undeniable legal obligation.
  • The identification of "Best Available Techniques" which will play a decisive role in the early adoption of the privacy-by-design principle.