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The Privacy and Data Protection Impact Assessment Framework for RFID Applications: A defining moment in the modern epic of co-regulation in ICT

--- Posted by Gérald Santucci, DG INFSO, Head of unit: Networked Enterprise and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

There were good reasons to believe that the Signing Ceremony of 6th April 2011 in Brussels concerning the Privacy and Data Protection Impact Assessment Framework for RFID Applications would be an historic moment. And it was one indeed! Beyond the very nice words that demonstrated the personal commitment of all participants and their collective adherence to the process and the outcome, I was pleased to hear we'd done so well and that industry players had already interesting thoughts about the practical implementation of the Framework.

While listening to the participants – Jacob Kohnstamm from the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, Udo Helmbrecht from the European Network and Information Security Agency, the leaders from Industry, and of course Vice President Neelie Kroes – it came to my mind that rarely in the development of a European policy approach to RFID have we faced the challenges and remarkable opportunities for progress that we face today and rarely have we had in our hands the knowledge and the cultural heritage to meet both.

The success of the RFID PIA Framework reflects the commitment of all stakeholders to accept and promote the new spirit that has taken hold since the adoption of the RFID Recommendation of May 2009: a new sense of community, a new willingness and commitment to enhance dialogue between Industry, Government, Civil Society and Data Protection Authorities, a new understanding that we are all in this together, also a new recognition of the helpful role of the European Commission, and finally a new readiness on the part of the majority of people and organisations to use the Framework and develop it, in particular towards sectorial templates.

This major achievement is poised to enlighten future co-regulation initiatives for bringing together technology and privacy, and hence for opening the way to a new wave of innovative services that will improve business productivity and the quality of life of people while preserving privacy.

The Europa website will soon host a new dedicated space on the RFID PIA Framework, including the Framework document in all EU languages, the list of participants to the ceremony, the European Commission Press Release, the other Press Releases from Industry and Civil Society, the video produced by "Europe by Satellite (EbS) as well as some pictures, and of course the scanned picture of the signatures.

Since 2006 we've known that it was time for change. The work on developing the RFID PIA Framework has brought new ideas and a renewed commitment to solve problems. I'm proud of the steps all stakeholders have taken to provide a balanced and effective solution to privacy and data protection, and I'm going to push to make it a reality for all companies involved in RFID deployment in Europe.

Finally, all along this 2-year process it has been a great privilege to work with the stakeholders and to enjoy continuous and enthusiastic support from my team as well as from my colleagues in DG Justice and Liberty, especially Marie-Hélène Boulanger and Hana Pechackova. Now I hope that the wonderful promise offered by the RFID PIA Framework will be fulfilled when it is applied in the real world, and I also hope that it will be used as a best practice for initiatives in other challenging ICT domains such as Cloud Computing, Internet of Things or Online Advertising.