In hopes of debunking myths about RFID and dispelling concerns about privacy, two U.S. senators have organized an RFID caucus. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) plan to hold periodic discussions aimed at educating fellow lawmakers about the technology's applications and potential benefits.
The inaugural meeting, a daylong event held in mid-July, featured a panel discussion with industry experts and vendor demonstrations. Among the panelists was a representative from the Department of Defense, who spoke about how RFID is helping the government cut down on excess inventory and speed up deliveries of supplies to U.S. outposts around the world. Other panelists included representatives from IBM, ODIN technologies and the University of Texas, Austin.
"The goal is for lawmakers to legislate against bad behavior such as the illegal use of RFID data, and not to legislate against RFID technology itself," says Michael Liard, principal RFID analyst at ABI Research and a panelist at the event. "We urged senators to avoid reactive RFID legislation without proactive RFID education."
The United States isn't the only country where RFID has captured lawmakers' attention. On the same day political leaders met in Washington, the European Union unveiled a three-year initiative for funding research, development and training in the effective use of RFID based on EPCglobal standards. Dubbed BRIDGE (Building RFID solutions for the Global Environment), the project, which is coordinated by global data standards body GS1, brings together manufacturers, retailers, solutions providers and academics from universities in Europe and China.
"Since its inception, RFID has been hailed as the panacea for a more sophisticated and efficient global supply chain, but there are many questions to answer before this is realized," says Henri Barthel, technical director at EPCglobal and BRIDGE project coordinator. "Cross-industry participation in such a largescale project is a key to its success."