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U.S. Senators Learn that RFID has Legal Uses

U.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and John Cornyn (R-TX) officially launched the U.S. Senate RFID Caucus in Washington, DC. The event included opening remarks by Co-Chairs Dorgan and Cornyn, a panel discussion with industry experts, and vendor demonstrations.

ABI Research principal RFID analyst Michael J. Liard served as a panelist at this landmark event, which was attended by more than 150 people, including Senators and Senate staff members.

The Caucus has been created to help 'educate' Senators about RFID technology benefits, policy changes, and applications. It will also help policymakers understand how the U.S. can remain globally competitive in RFID technology implementation and innovation. The event was the first in a series of programs designed to proactively 'push back hype' and promote better understanding of the technology.

In addition to ABI Research's delegate, panel participants included representatives from IBM, ODIN Technologies, the U.S. Department of Defense, VeriSign, and the University of Texas, Austin. The panel was chaired by Mark Roberti, editor of RFID Journal.

Among the industry associations and vendors exhibiting were Attevo, Center for Nanoside Science, Cisco, EPCglobal, HID, IBM, IEE USA, InfoLogix, Information Technology Industry Council, KillDeer Mountain, North Dakota State University, ODIN Technologies, RCD, RFID International Business Association, SAP, Skyetek, Symbol, TI, Unisys, VeriSign, and Zebra.

According to Liard, "In the first of many Caucus sessions lawmakers took the initial step toward learning more about RFID technology and sorting through 'RFID myths' and realities. 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. We urged Senators to avoid reactive RFID legislation without proactive RFID education."

No mention was made regarding who -- if anyone -- was representing the American consumer at this event. Theoretically, it was the senators, of course. However, in practice these elected lawmakers rarely receive a balanced perspective from staff aids that brief them on the topic, and so they can be greatly influenced by these biased 'industry experts' with very apparent vested interests.

And, there is the irony. Savvy politicians will see a 'red flag' when they're presented with a one-sided view of an issue. Instead of helping the market development of RFID technology, this well-intentioned but misguided approach creates the appearance of being centered on 'manipulating policy' -- not the impartial education and information sharing exercise, as it was intended.

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