New privacy protections for card key carriers

October 6, 2008 7:23:43 PM PDT
Do you have a card key to get into your workplace? If so, you now have additional privacy protections. There is a new law on the books that puts an end to electronic pickpocketing, or at least the legal pickpocketing of electronic information.

Those card keys that allow you to get in to your workplace, or from one area to the next, are mostly outfitted with RFID technology. That stands for Radio Frequency Identification.

"If you are carrying an RFID card in your wallet or dangling from your belt or around your neck, anyone with an RFID reader can potentially read that personal information from a distance without you ever knowing it's been read," said Nicole Ozer of the American Civil Liberties Union.

And that matters because those cards can carry a lot of personal information like your name, age and Social Security number.It's like an electronic pickpocketing.

"You and I both know that it is illegal if I reach into your pocket and steal your ID card, but it has not been unlawful if someone skims or reads, by radio waves, the information on that ID card," said State Senator Joe Simitian who just got legislation passed that puts an end to that legal practice.

"The notion that our personal information is on an ID card without any privacy protections, without any limitations and that someone can just walk right by, skim that information and go on their way, I think it ought to be cause for concern," said Simitian.

Those caught can be sentenced to a year in jail and a fine of $1,500.


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