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Citizens Against Government Waste Backs Anti-RFID Report

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 /U.S. Newswire/ — Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today encouraged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee to pass a subcommittee report that recommends against the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for personal identification. The full committee meets on December 6.

“RFID may be good for tracking produce, but is an expensive, intrusive way to track people,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “We strongly urge the Privacy Advisory Committee to adopt this report in its current form.”

The subcommittee report, The Use of RFID for Human Identification, finds that RFID technology “is no more resistant to forgery or tampering than any other digital technology … (and) exposes identification processes to security weaknesses that non-radio-frequency-based processes do not share.” Other privacy concerns include an individual’s inability to choose when he or she is identified and what information is read. The subcommittee also proposes safeguards for the use of RFID such as notification of and ability to control when and what information is collected and by whom, enhanced security for chip readers and databases, and limited collection and storage of data.

CAGW has released two reports, Border Security: PASS Card Fails on Cost, Privacy and Real ID: Big Brother Could Cost Big Money, criticizing the use of RFID for identification purposes. In particular, the disadvantages of embedding an RFID chip, or electronic beacon, on the new PASS Card outweigh any potential advantages. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, slated to go in effect in 2008, will require U.S. citizens and all travelers to show a PASS Card or other DHS-approved document in order to enter the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

“The use of RFID for human identification burdens taxpayers and leaves Americans vulnerable to potential invasions of privacy with only minimal benefits. We hope DHS will heed the advice of the subcommittee’s report and not recommend the use of this expensive and ineffective technology,” Schatz concluded.

A link to the Draft Report from the DHS Emerging Applications and Technology Subcommittee can be found at http://www.cagw.org.

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