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Sunday, February 20, 2005

RFID Deployment & Regulatory Challenges

Ronald E. Quirk, Jr. and Stacia J. Borrello have come out with a well researched article on RFID deployment and regulatory conformance requirements. The key ideas covered include:

RFID deployment is expected to be substantial. Many market research firms estimate that there will be nearly a tenfold increase in supply chain RFID use over the next five years. The total global market for all RFID systems is expected to roughly double in size in just three years, growing from $1.1 billion in 2003 to $2.1 billion by the end of 2005. RFID patents are rapidly being granted. By the end of 2003, approximately 4,300 RFID-related patents were granted, with more than three-fourths of them granted since 1999. While the indicators show rapid implementation of the technology, there are some regulatory matters of which RFID manufacturers, designers, and operators should be aware. Key RFID regulatory issues include compliance with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rules and regulations, and the probability of multiplying state privacy laws.Ignorance of the law could impede deployment of even the most efficient and well-designed RFID systems.As the industry and government mandate timetables requiring RFID tags on individual items grow near, privacy laws are likely to be implemented. Companies utilizing RFID would be well advised to stay current on the state of RFID privacy laws and be prepared to implement business plans that will be able to handle the legal mandates of those laws.

As RFID continues its rapid growth in the global marketplace, opportunities to capitalize on this technology abound. While high-profile compliance mandates by retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target and federal agencies such as the DoD fuel the implementation of RFID, countless numbers of businesses across all market sectors are investigating the cost-saving capabilities of RFID. However, with rapid deployment of RFID on the horizon, it will be critically important to know how to navigate within the regulatory environment. RFID manufacturers, vendors, and users should be aware of, and develop programs to ensure compliance with, the myriad of current and future regulations.

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