Schwarzenegger Quashes RFID Bill

By Renee Boucher Ferguson Print this article Print

The California governor quietly vetoes the long-awaited bill to regulate the use of radio-frequency identification in state and local documents.

The long-awaited California bill to regulate the use of radio-frequency identification in state and local documents has been quashed.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger quietly vetoed SB 768 last weekend.

Buried in a list of 73 bills vetoed Sept. 30 is the notification that SB 768, the Identity Information Protection Act of 2006, didn't make the cut.

Authored by California State Senator Joe Simitian, a Democrat from Palo Alto, the bill was thought by many to be the bellwether for RFID legislation in the United States. The hope for groups like the American Civil Liberties Union was that once the bill passed into law, other states would take California's lead by enacting laws to limit the use of RFID technology to protect citizen's privacy and security rights.

Governor Schwarzenegger said in a statement that the bill is premature.

"I am concerned that the bill's provisions are overbroad and may unduly burden the numerous beneficial new applications of contactless technology," said Governor Schwarzenegger. He pointed to the fact that the federal government, under the REAL ID Act, has not yet released new technology standards for government ID cards (RFID is a strong contender) and any legislation from California could impose requirements that would contradict the federal mandates soon to be issued.

The REAL ID Act, which was attached as a rider on a military spending bill, was signed into law May 11, 2005. It stipulates that all states must redesign their driver's licenses by 2008 to include a common machine-readable technology—a move that signals for many the advent of a national RFID-chipped identification card.

In his veto statement Governor Schwarzenegger also said a California law prohibiting the use of RFID in state and local documents could 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."

Senator Simitian said in a Sept. 15 interview with eWEEK that he would continue his work to draft RFID legislation should SB 768 fail.

"If [Governor Schwarzenegger] vetoes, the bill is dead for this two-year session and I can come back in 2007-2008," said Senator Simitian. "I'm in the middle of my first four-year term."

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This article was originally published on 2006-10-04
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