The European Commission has unveiled plans for a radio frequency identification (RFID) strategy for Europe.
The move is aimed at boosting the use of RFID technology by business and public services, while addressing concerns about the privacy of personal data.
Information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding said: “From fighting counterfeits to better healthcare, smart RFID-chips offers tremendous opportunities for business and society.”
Speaking at the Cebit IT trade show in Hanover, Germany, Reding added: "The commission's Europe-wide public consultation in 2006 identified a strong lack of awareness and considerable concern among citizens. The commission's RFID strategy will therefore seek to raise awareness, stress the absolute need for citizens to decide how their personal data is used and ensure that Europe removes existing obstacles to RFID's enormous potential."
The commission’s plans include setting up a RFID stakeholder group to advise it on developing European policy on RFID applications. It also intends to propose amendments to the European E-Privacy Directive to take account of RFID applications, as part of an overhaul of the EU’s telecoms regulations.
By the end of the year, the commission is also expected to make recommendations to EU members states on how to tackle the data security and privacy issues arising from RFID technology.
The commission will also review RFID research and innovation, radio spectrum availability, standardisation, environmental and health issues.
Last year more than 1bn RFID tags were sold worldwide, with sales expected to increase 500-fold over the next 10 years. The European RFID market is estimated to grow from last year’s €500m (£333m) to €7bn (£4.7bn) by 2016. Europe is also a key international centre for RFID research and development.