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State Bill to Limit RFID

Wired reports that a California bill is moving swiftly through the state legislature that would make it illegal for state agencies and other bodies to use the technology in state identification documents.

The bill, which California lawmakers believe is the first of its kind in the nation, would prohibit the use of radio-frequency identification, or RFID, chips in state identity documents such as student badges, driver’s licenses, medical cards and state employee cards. The bill allows for some exceptions.

The bill allows for a number of exceptions for the use of RFID, such as devices used for paying bridge and road tolls, ID badges used for inmates housed in prisons or mental health facilities, or ID bracelets and badges used for children under the age of four who are in the care of a government-operated medical facility.

The bill allows agencies to obtain additional exceptions to the ban if they can prove to the legislature that there is a compelling state interest to use it in certain situations and can prove that other, less invasive technologies would be unsuitable. The bill allows state agencies that already have RFID devices in place – such as the Senate and Assembly office buildings – to phase them out by 2011.

It would also outlaw skimming – which occurs when an unauthorized person with an electronic reading device surreptitiously reads the electronic information on an RFID chip without the knowledge of the person carrying or wearing the chip.

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