Schwarzenegger scraps California RFID security measure

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Saturday vetoed legislation that would have created a security framework for the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in the state’s official documents and identification cards.

The bill, called the Identity Information Protection Act of 2006, would have mandated basic protections against the abuse of RFID data with technologies such as encryption. It also would have made skimming, or the reading of RFID data without consent, a crime.

The bill, approved by the state’s legislature in August, could have made California the first state in the nation to create a privacy framework for official RFID use. A variety of advocacy groups, ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California to the Gun Owners of California, had backed the bill.

Schwarzenegger said he vetoed the law because he considered it “premature.” He noted that the federal government, under the Real ID Act mandating national standards for identification cards such as drivers’ licenses, has yet to release its own standards for security. with that in mind, Schwarzenegger said he didn’t want California to create a set of requirements that would contradict the upcoming federal ones.

“In addition, this bill may inhibit various state agencies from procuring technology that could enhance and streamline operations, reduce expenses and improve customer service to the public and may unnecessarily restrict state agencies,” he said.

Despite Schwarzenegger’s veto, the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Joe Simitian, vowed to reintroduce the measure in the next session of the legislature. “Do we really want state and local governments requiring members of the public to carry identification documents that broadcast their personal information without their knowledge or consent?” said the Palo Alto-based Democrat in a statement. “I think most Californians will be skeptical of such a notion, and understandably so.”

Simitian called RFID chips a “rapidly proliferating technology.”

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