Brussels, 3 July 2006
An online public consultation on how the European Commission can help to ensure that the growing use of radio frequency identification devices (RFID) boosts the competitiveness of the Europe's economy and improves the quality of life of its citizens, whilst safeguarding their basic rights, and in particular their privacy, was launched today on the ‘Your Voice in Europe’ website (http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice).
“We need to build a society-wide consensus on the future of RFID. We need to ensure that RFID technology delivers on its economic potential and to create the right opportunities for its use for the wider public good, while ensuring that citizens remain in control of their data. In a Communication planned for December 2006, the European Commission intends to assume these twin responsibilities. I invite all stakeholders to contribute to this debate", said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.
To prevent the possibility of a fragmented approach to RFID in Europe, the European Commission has set out an ambitious timeline for the adoption of a policy environment that stimulates the use of RFID technology while providing safeguards for personal data.
In a first phase from March to June 2006, the Commission held five workshops to assess the potential of RFID for business and society but also concerns about personal privacy and security (see IP/06/289). These workshops also looked at standards and interoperability, international compatibility, radio spectrum allocation, and the future of RFID technology. They attracted wide interest from all stakeholders, including citizens, trade associations, and business representatives. They also gained recognition around the world as several high-level experts and decision-makers from non-European third countries participated in the various panels.
Four months into the initiative, the launch of the public online consultation today marks the start of the second phase of the open and interactive debate.
Industry stakeholders and the general public are now invited to respond to questions on the ‘Your voice in Europe’ website. The Commission expects from the ongoing public consultation to produce a wide consensus as to whether, and if so to what extent, Europe needs a conducive and stable policy environment encouraging all types of companies to invest in RFID technology and harmonising technology standards as well as radio frequency allocation, while at the same time safeguarding individuals’ privacy and security.
A final conference, scheduled for October 2006, will present the main outcomes of the workshops and the online consultation to an audience of experts and decision-makers. This event will enable the Commission to report on its assessment of the consultation initiatives and to collect the final views of the stakeholders before preparing the Communication to European Parliament and Council.
For more information and access to the online public consultation:
'Your Voice in Europe': http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/
RFID Consultation website: http://www.rfidconsultation.eu
See also MEMO/06/112