Information Security: Radio Frequency Identification Technology  
in the Federal Government (27-MAY-05, GAO-05-551).		 
                                                                 
Radio frequency identification (RFID) is an automated		 
data-capture technology that can be used to electronically	 
identify, track, and store information contained on a tag that is
attached to or embedded in an object, such as a product, case, or
pallet. Federal agencies have begun implementation of RFID	 
technology, which offers them new capabilities and efficiencies  
in operations. The reduced cost of the technology has made the	 
wide-scale use of it a real possibility for government and	 
industry organizations. Accordingly, GAO was requested to discuss
considerations surrounding RFID technology implementation in the 
federal government. Specifically, GAO was asked to (1) provide an
overview of the technology; (2) identify the major initiatives at
federal agencies that use or propose to use the technology; (3)  
discuss the current standards, including those for		 
interoperability, that exist; (4) discuss potential legal issues 
that the 24 Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Act agencies have	 
identified in their planning for technology implementation; and  
(5) discuss security and privacy considerations surrounding the  
technology and the tools and practices available to mitigate	 
them. The Office of Management and Budget agreed with the	 
contents of this report.					 
-------------------------Indexing Terms------------------------- 
REPORTNUM:   GAO-05-551 					        
    ACCNO:   A25322						        
  TITLE:     Information Security: Radio Frequency Identification     
Technology in the Federal Government				 
     DATE:   05/27/2005 
  SUBJECT:   Computer security					 
	     Data integrity					 
	     Data transmission					 
	     Information resources management			 
	     Information security				 
	     Information security management			 
	     Information technology				 
	     Radio frequency allocation 			 
	     Standards						 
	     Standards and standardization			 
	     Strategic planning 				 
	     Technology assessment				 
	     Government information				 

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GAO-05-551

                 United States Government Accountability Office

                     GAO Report to Congressional Requesters

May 2005

INFORMATON SECURITY

      Radio Frequency Identification Technology in the Federal Government

                                       a

GAO-05-551

[IMG]

May 2005

INFORMATION SECURITY

Radio Frequency Identification Technology in the Federal Government

                                 What GAO Found

The main technology components of an RFID system are a tag, reader, and
database. A reader scans the tag for data and sends the information to a
database, which stores the data contained on the tag (see figure).

The major initiatives at federal agencies that use or propose to use the
technology include physical access control and tracking assets, documents,
or materials. For example, the Department of Homeland Security is using it
to track and identify assets, weapons, and baggage on flights.

RFID standards define a set of rules, conditions, or requirements that the
components of the system must meet in order to operate effectively. There
are multiple sets of standards that guide the use of RFID technology. In
addition, the standards used often depend on the type of activity the
application is used for and the industry or country in which it is used.
For applications where global interoperability between systems is
necessary, such as electronic passports or global supply chains, a common
set of standards can assist with the proper interaction and interchange of
information between systems.

Of the 16 agencies that responded to the question on legal issues
associated with RFID implementation in our survey, only one identified
what it considered to be legal issues. These issues relate to protecting
an individual's right to privacy and tracking sensitive documents and
evidence.

The use of tags and databases raises important security considerations
related to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data on
the tags, in the databases, and in how this information is being
protected. Key privacy concerns include tracking an individual's movements
and profiling an individual's habits, among others. Tools and practices
are available to address these considerations, including existing and
proposed information security technologies and practices, and other
practices required by law.

                          Components of an RFID System

Source: GAO.

                 United States Government Accountability Office

Contents

  Letter

Results in Brief
Background
RFID Technology Overview
Several Agencies Have Begun Implementation of RFID Systems
Multiple Sets of Standards Guide RFID Technology
Federal Agencies Raise Few Legal Issues
Security and Privacy Considerations with RFID
Summary
Agency Comments

                                                    1 2 4 4 12 14 17 18 27 27

Appendixes                                                              
                Appendix I:       Objectives, Scope, and Methodology       29 
               Appendix II: Research and Development Efforts Are Under Way 31 
                                Illustrative List of Standards-Setting     
              Appendix III:             Organizations for RFID             
                                               Systems                     33 
              Appendix IV:     Illustrative List of Standards for RFID     35 
                                               Systems                     
                Appendix V:             Staff Acknowledgments              36 

Tables          Table 1: Typical Characteristics of RFID Tags            8 
              Table 2: Common RFID Operating Frequencies for Passive Tags  11 
           Table 3: Federal Agencies' Reported Use or Planned Use of RFID 
                                     Technology                            13 
Figures    Figure 1: Main Components of an RFID System Figure 2: An        
                         Example of the Back of an RFID Tag               5 6
                                Figure 3: The Reader                        8 
                               Figure 4: The Database                       9 

Contents

Abbreviations

ANSI American National Standards Institute
CFO Chief Financial Officer
DOD Department of Defense
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
FCC Federal Communications Commission
FISMA Federal Information Security Management Act
IEC International Electrotechnical Commission
ISO International Organization for Standardization
NTIA National Telecommunications and Information Administration
OFEE Office of the Federal Environmental Executive
RFID radio frequency identification
UHF ultrahigh frequency

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed in
its entirety without further permission from GAO. However, because this
work may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this material
separately.

A

United States Government Accountability Office Washington, D.C. 20548

May 27, 2005

The Honorable Christopher Cox Chairman Committee on Homeland Security
House of Representatives

The Honorable Bennie G. Thompson Ranking Member Committee on Homeland
Security House of Representatives

The Honorable Zoe Lofgren Committee on Homeland Security House of
Representatives

The Honorable Mac Thornberry House of Representatives

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is an automated data-capture
technology that can be used to electronically identify, track, and store
information contained on a tag. The tag can be attached to or embedded in
the object to be identified, such as a product, case, or pallet. RFID
provides identification and tracking capabilities by using wireless
communication to transmit data.

The technology can provide a more efficient method for federal agencies,
manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers to collect, manage, disseminate,
store, and analyze information on inventory, business processes, and
security controls, among other functions, by providing real-time access to
information. The use of this technology also has the potential to assist
agencies in tracking their assets, thereby maintaining more accurate
inventory records.

In response to your request, our report discusses considerations
surrounding RFID technology implementation in the federal government.
Specifically, our objectives were to (1) provide an overview of the
technology, with an emphasis on passive technology; (2) identify the major
initiatives at federal agencies that use or propose to use the technology;
(3) discuss the current standards, including those for interoperability,
that exist; (4) discuss potential legal issues that the 24 Chief Financial
Officer

(CFO) Act of 19901 agencies have identified in their planning for
technology implementation; and (5) discuss security and privacy
considerations surrounding the technology and the tools and practices
available to mitigate them.

We surveyed 23 of the 24 CFO Act agencies to gather information on whether
the agencies are incorporating the technology into their systems, what
they are using the technology for, and any security, privacy, or legal
issues.2 Appendix I contains a description of our objectives, scope, and
methodology. We performed our review in Washington, D.C., from September
2004 through April 2005 in accordance with generally accepted government
auditing standards.

Results in Brief	RFID is an automated data-capture technology that can be
used to electronically identify, track, and store information contained on
a tag. The main technology components of an RFID system are a tag, reader,
and database. A radio frequency reader scans the tag for data and sends
the information to a database, which stores the data contained on the tag.
Passive tags do not contain their own power source, such as a battery. The
development of these inexpensive tags has created a revolution in RFID
adoption and made wide-scale use of them a real possibility for government
and industry organizations.

The major initiatives at federal agencies that use or propose to use the
technology include physical access control and tracking assets, documents,
or materials. Thirteen of the 24 CFO Act agencies reported having
implemented or having a specific plan to implement the technology in one
or more applications. For example, the Department of Homeland Security is
using it to track and identify assets, weapons, and baggage on flights.
The Department of Defense (DOD) is also using it to track shipments.

RFID standards define a set of rules, conditions, or requirements that the
components of a system (i.e., tag, reader, and database) must meet in
order to operate effectively, ensure that tags meet intended designs,
provide adequate protection of data for both security and privacy issues,
and define

131 U.S.C. S: 901.

2The Department of Defense (DOD) was not issued a survey because we
collected relevant data through other ongoing work.

coding information contained on the tags. Multiple sets of standards guide
the implementation and use of RFID technology. Additionally, multiple
standards-setting organizations are involved in the development of
standards. The standards used often depend on the type of activity the
application is used for and the industry or country in which it is used.
For applications where global interoperability between systems is
necessary, such as electronic passports or global supply chains, a common
set of standards can govern the interaction and interchange of information
between systems.

Of the 16 agencies that responded to the question on legal issues
associated with RFID implementation in our survey, only one identified
what it considered to be legal issues. These issues relate to protecting
an individual's right to privacy and tracking sensitive documents and
evidence.

Several security and privacy issues are associated with federal and
commercial use of RFID technology. The security of tags and databases
raises important considerations related to the confidentiality, integrity,
and availability of the data on the tags, in the databases, and in how
this information is being protected. Tools and practices to address these
security issues, such as compliance with the risk-based framework mandated
by the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 20023 and
employing encryption and authentication technologies, can help agencies
achieve a stronger security posture. Among the key privacy issues are
notifying individuals of the existence or use of the technology; tracking
an individual's movements; profiling an individual's habits, tastes, or
predilections; and allowing secondary uses of information. The Privacy Act
of 1974 limits federal agencies' use and disclosure of personal
information,4 and the privacy impact assessments required by the
E-Government Act of 2002 provide an existing framework for agencies to
follow in assessing the impact on privacy when implementing RFID
technology.5 Additional measures proposed to mitigate privacy issues, such
as using a deactivation mechanism on the tag, incorporating blocking
technology to disrupt transmission, and implementing an opt-in/opt-out
framework for consumers remain largely prospective.

344 U.S.C. S: 3544 (b).
45 U.S.C. S: 552 a(a)(4).
544 U.S.C. S: 3501 note. See Office of Management and Budget M-03-22,
Sept. 26, 2003.

Office of Management and Budget officials stated that they agreed with the
contents of the report and provided technical comments that we addressed
in the report, as appropriate.

Background	RFID technology uses wireless communication in radio frequency
bands to transmit data from tags to readers. A tag can be attached to or
embedded in an object to be identified, such as a product, case, or
pallet. A reader scans the tag for data and sends the information to a
database, which stores the data contained on the tag. For example, tags
can be placed on car windshields so that toll systems can quickly identify
and collect toll payments on roadways.

Interest in RFID technology began during World War II and has increased in
the past few years. During the war, radio waves were used to determine
whether approaching planes belonged to allies or enemies. Since then,
exploration in radio technology research and development in commercial
activities continued through the 1960s and evolved into marked
advancements in the 1970s by companies, academic institutions, and the
U.S. government. For example, at the request of the Department of Energy,
Los Alamos National Laboratory developed a system to track nuclear
materials by placing a tag in a truck and readers at the gates of secure
facilities. This is the system used today in automated toll payment
systems.

The technology offers several improvements over its predecessor
technologies, such as barcodes and magnetic stripe cards. For instance, a
tag can carry more data than a barcode or magnetic stripe and can be
reprogrammed with new information if necessary. Additionally, tags do not
typically require a line of sight to be read, as barcodes do, and can be
read more rapidly and over greater distances. Mandates by large retailers
and DOD requiring their top suppliers to use RFID tags, along with
technological advancements and decreased costs, have spurred the
proliferation of this technology. RFID technology is now being used in a
variety of public and private-sector settings, ranging from tracking books
in libraries to authenticating a key in order to start a vehicle.

RFID Technology	RFID is an automated data-capture technology that can be
used to electronically identify, track, and store information contained on
a tag. A

Overview	radio frequency reader scans the tag for data and sends the
information to a database, which stores the data contained on the tag.

The main technology components of an RFID system are the tag, reader, and
database. (See fig. 1.)

Figure 1: Main Components of an RFID System

Source: GAO.

The Tag	An RFID tag, or transponder, consists of a chip and an antenna
(see fig. 2). A chip can store a unique serial number or other information
based on the tag's type of memory, which can be read-only, read-write, or
write-once read-many. The antenna, which is attached to the microchip,
transmits information from the chip to the reader. Typically, a larger
antenna indicates a longer read range. The tag is attached to or embedded
in an object to be identified, such as a product, case, or pallet, and can
be scanned by mobile or stationary readers using radio waves. Figure 2
illustrates the back of an RFID tag that is used in libraries to track
books.

                Figure 2: An Example of the Back of an RFID Tag

Source: GAO.

The simplest version of a tag is a passive tag. Passive tags do not
contain their own power source, such as a battery, nor can they initiate
communication with a reader. Instead, the tag responds to the reader's
radio frequency6 emissions and derives its power from the energy waves
transmitted by the reader. A passive tag contains, at a minimum, a unique
identifier for the individual item attached to the tag. Depending on the
storage capacity of the tag, additional data can be added. Under perfect
conditions, the tags can be read7 from a range of about 10 to 20 feet.8
The cost of passive tags ranges from 20 cents to several dollars. Costs
vary based on the radio frequency used, amount of memory, design of the

6Frequency is the number of radio waves that pass a given point during a
fixed period of time (e.g., the number of complete oscillations per second
of energy).

7The read range of a tag is based on the size of the antenna, frequency
used, power of the reader, and the material between the tag and reader.

8Although these tags can theoretically be read at 30 feet, when factoring
in circumstances that can interfere with the read range (e.g., water and
metal), the actual read distance is reduced to 10 feet or less.

antenna, and packaging around the transponder, among other tag
requirements. Passive tags can operate at low, high, ultrahigh, or
microwave frequency (described in the next section). Examples of passive
tag applications include mass transit passes, building access badges, and
consumer products in the supply chain. The development of these
inexpensive tags has created a revolution in RFID adoption and made
widescale use of them a real possibility for government and industry
organizations.

Semipassive tags9 also do not initiate communication with the reader but
contain batteries that allow the tag to perform other functions, such as
monitoring environmental conditions and powering the tag's internal
electronics. These tags do not actively transmit a signal to the reader.
Some semipassive tags remain dormant (which conserves battery life) until
they receive a signal from the reader. The battery is also used to
facilitate information storage. Semipassive tags can be connected to
sensors to store information for container security devices.

Active tags contain a power source and a transmitter, in addition to the
antenna and chip, and send a continuous signal. These tags typically have
read/write capabilities-tag data can be rewritten and/or modified. Active
tags can initiate communication and communicate over longer distances- up
to 750 feet, depending on the battery power. The relative expense of these
tags makes them an option for use only where their high cost can be
justified. Active tags are more expensive than passive, costing about $20
or more per tag. Examples of active tag applications are toll passes, such
as "E-Z pass," and the in-transit visibility applications on major items
and consolidated cargo moved by DOD.

Tags have various types of memory, including read-only, read-write, and
write-once read-many. Read-only tags have minimal storage capacity
(typically less than 64 bits) and contain permanently programmed data that
cannot be altered. These tags primarily contain item identification
information and have been used in libraries and video rental stores.
Passive tags are typically read-only. In addition to storing data,
read-write tags can allow the data to be updated when necessary.
Consequently, they have larger memory capacity and are more expensive than
read-only tags. These tags are typically used where data may need to be
altered throughout a product's life cycle, such as in manufacturing or in
supply chain

9Semipassive tags are also referred to as semiactive or battery-assisted
passive tags.

management. A write-once, read-many tag allows information to be stored
once, but does not allow subsequent alterations to the data. This tag
provides the security features of a read-only tag while adding the
additional functionality of read/write tags. The following table provides
a summary of the characteristics of passive, semipassive, and active tags.

                 Table 1: Typical Characteristics of RFID Tags

                                Passive tags Semipassive tags   Active tags   
               Power supply external (from   internal battery        internal 
                            reader)                                   battery 
                 Read range    up to 20 feet   up to 100 feet  Up to 750 feet 
                    Type of mostly read-only       read-write      read-write 
                     memory                                   
                       Cost $.20 to several         $2 to $10   $20 or more   
                            dollars                           
                Life of tag   up to 20 years     2 to 7 years  5 to 10 years  

Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology and Robert W. Baird
& Co., Inc., "RFID Explained: A Basic Overview" (February 2004).

The Reader	In order for an RFID system to function, it needs a reader, or
scanning device, that is capable of reliably reading the tags and
communicating the results to a database. (See fig. 3.)

Figure 3: The Reader

Source: GAO.

A reader uses its own antenna to communicate with the tag. When a reader
broadcasts radio waves, all tags designated to respond to that frequency
and within range will respond. A reader also has the capability to

communicate with the tag without a direct line of sight, depending on the
radio frequency and the type of tag (active, passive, or semipassive)
used.

Readers can process multiple items at once, allowing for increased read
processing times. They can be mobile, such as handheld devices that scan
objects like pallets and cases, or stationary, such as point-of-sale
devices used in supermarkets. Readers are differentiated by their storage
capacity, processing capability, and the frequencies they can read.

The Database	The database is a back-end logistic information system that
tracks and contains information about the tagged item. (See fig. 4.)

Figure 4: The Database

Source: GAO.

Information stored in the database can include item identifier,
description, manufacturer, movement of the item, and location. The type of
information housed in the database will vary by application. For instance,
the data stored for a toll payment system will be different than the data
stored for a supply chain. Databases can also be linked into other
networks, such as the local area network, which can connect the database
to the Internet. This connectivity can allow for data sharing beyond the
local database from which the information was originally collected.

RFID Systems Operate on Radio Choice of radio frequency is a key operating
characteristic of RFID

Frequencies 	systems. The frequency largely determines the speed of
communication and the distance from which the tag can be read. Generally,
higher frequencies indicate a longer read range. Certain applications are
more suitable for one type of frequency than other types, because radio
waves

behave differently at each of the frequencies. For instance, low-frequency
waves can penetrate walls better than higher frequencies, but higher
frequencies have faster data rates. In the United States, the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) administers the allocation of frequency
bands for commercial use and the National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA) manages the federal spectrum. RFID
systems use an unlicensed frequency range, classified as
industrialscientific-medical or short-range devices, which is authorized
by the FCC.10 Devices operating in this unlicensed bandwidth may not cause
harmful interference and must accept any interference received. The FCC
also regulates the specific power limit associated with each frequency.
The combination of frequency and allowable power levels determine the
functional range of a particular application, such as the power output of
readers.

There are four main frequencies used for RFID systems: (1) low, (2) high,
(3) ultrahigh, and (4) microwave.

Low-frequency bands range from 125 kilohertz (KHz) to 134 KHz. This band
is most suitable for short-range use such as antitheft systems, animal
identification, and automobile key-and-lock systems.

High-frequency bands operate at 13.56 megahertz (MHz). High frequency
allows for greater accuracy within a 3-foot range, and thus, reduces the
risk of incorrectly reading a tag. Consequently, it is more suitable for
item-level reading. Passive 13.56 MHz tags can be read at a rate of 10 to
100 tags per second and at a range of 3 feet or less. High-frequency RFID
tags are used for material tracking in libraries and bookstores, pallet
tracking, building access control, airline baggage tracking, and apparel
item tracking.

Ultrahigh-frequency tags operate around 900 MHz and can be read at longer
distances than high-frequency tags, ranging from 3 to 15 feet. These tags,
however, are more sensitive to environmental factors than tags that
operate in other frequencies. The 900 MHz band is emerging as the
preferred band for supply-chain applications due to its read rate and
range. Passive ultrahigh-frequency tags can be read at about 100 to 1,000
tags per second, with efforts under way to increase this read rate. These
tags are

10In the United States, the FCC authorizes the use of the 2.4 GHz and the
902-928 MHz frequency range for industrial-scientific-medical and
short-range devices, which includes RFID technology.

commonly used in pallet and container tracking, truck and trailer tracking
in shipping yards, and have been adopted by major retailers and DOD.

Additionally, in the United States, the 433 MHz band is used to identify
the contents of shipping containers in commercial and industrial areas to
allow timelier and more accurate data transmission. According to the FCC,
such use could benefit commercial shippers and have significant homeland
security benefits by enabling the entire contents of shipping containers
to be easily and immediately identified, and by allowing a determination
of whether the contents were tampered with during shipping.

Tags operating in the microwave frequencies, typically 2.45 and 5.8
gigahertz (GHz), experience more reflected radio waves from nearby
objects, which can impede the reader's ability to communicate with the
tag. Microwave RFID tags are typically used for supply chain management.
Table 2 provides a summary of the operating frequencies for passive
tags.11

Table 2: Common RFID Operating Frequencies for Passive Tags

Typical read range
and rate Examples of use

                                   Frequency

 Low frequency 125 KHz ~1.5 feet; Access control, animal tracking, low reading
                        speed point of sale applications

High frequency 13.56 MHz	~3 feet; medium Access control, smart cards,
reading speed item-level tracking

            Ultrahigh  860-930 MHz up to 15 feet;     Pallet tracking, supply 
                                             high                       chain 
            frequency               reading speed                  management 
            Microwave              ~3 feet; high                              
                      2.45/5.8 GHz reading        Supply chain management
            frequency                       speed 

Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology and Bear Stearns,
"Supply Chain Technology" (January 2004).

Further advancements in radio frequency technology and its applications
are anticipated. Experts have suggested that the widespread implementation
of these current research and development efforts is approximately 5 years
away. Appendix II provides a discussion of these efforts.

11The technology for tags, antennas, and readers is rapidly evolving,
which may result in overlap between tag read distances in the near future.

  Several Agencies Have Begun Implementation of RFID Systems

Within the federal government, the major initiatives at agencies that use
or propose to use the technology include physical and logical access
control and tracking various objects such as shipments, baggage on
flights, documents, radioactive materials, evidence, weapons, and assets.
Several agencies have initiated pilot programs to evaluate the use of RFID
in specific applications. Of the 24 CFO Act agencies, 13 reported having
implemented or having a specific plan to implement the technology in one
or more applications. Table 3 provides a listing of the CFO Act agencies'
reported uses of RFID technology. The remaining 11 agencies reported that
they are not using the technology and do not have specific plans to
implement it in the future.

Table 3: Federal Agencies' Reported Use or Planned Use of RFID Technology

Agency Application

Department of Defense Logistics support

    Tracking shipments Department of Energy Detection of prohibited articles
Tracking the movement of materials Department of Health and Human Services
                            Physical access control

Department of Homeland Security	Border control, immigration and customs
(U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT))

                                Location system

      Smart containers Tracking and identification of assets Tracking and
                  identification for use in monitoring weapons

Tracking and identification of baggage on flights

Department of Labor Tracking and locating case files

Department of State Electronic passport

Department of Transportation Electronic screening

     Department of the Treasury Physical and logical access control Records
     management (tracking documents) Department of Veterans Affairs Audible
                              prescription reading

Tracking and routing carriers along conveyor lines

Environmental Protection Agency Tracking radioactive materials

General Services Administration	Distribution process Identification of
contents of shipments Tracking assets Tracking of evidence and artifacts

National Aeronautics and Space Administration Hazardous material
management

Social Security Administration Warehouse management Source: GAO analysis
of agencies' survey responses.

Note: The Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Housing and
Urban Development, Interior, and Justice; the U.S. Agency for
International Development; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the National
Science Foundation; the Office of Personnel Management; and the Small
Business Administration reported no current use or specific plan to use
RFID technology in either a pilot or an operational environment.

In addition to the initiatives reported by the 24 CFO Act agencies, other
related federal initiatives are under way. While the U.S. Department of
Agriculture reported that it is not using the technology and takes a
technology-neutral stance, it noted that private-sector participants in
its animal identification program have the option to use the technology to

track animals. Additionally, the General Services Administration is
involved with procuring governmentwide contactless identification cards12
in response to Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12.13 According to
the General Services Administration, the card will not use RFID
technology, but will use the International Organization for
Standardization (ISO)14 and International Electrotechnical Commission15
(IEC) ISO/IEC 14443 standards for contactless technology.16

Another federal initiative is under way at the Food and Drug
Administration. In February 2004, the agency published a report that
promotes RFID technology to prevent counterfeit drugs. In November 2004,
the agency stepped up its efforts by issuing a compliance policy guide to
facilitate pilot projects that use the technology in the pharmaceutical
sector. Accordingly, pharmaceutical companies are currently experimenting
with RFID to prevent counterfeit drugs and to help improve drug quality
from the manufacturer.

  Multiple Sets of Standards Guide RFID Technology

RFID standards define a set of rules, conditions, or requirements that the
components of a system (tag, reader, and database) must meet in order to
operate effectively and that are needed to cover the air-interface
operational requirements, 17 ensure that tags meet intended designs,

12Contactless cards contain an embedded antenna and work when the card is
waved within the magnetic field of a card reader or terminal. Contactless
cards are better suited for environments where quick interaction between
the card and reader is required, such as high-volume physical access.

13Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12/Hspd-12, August 27, 2004.

14ISO is a network of national standards institutes from 148 countries
that works in partnership with international organizations, governments,
industry, and business and consumer representatives to develop technical
standards.

15IEC is a global body responsible for developing a consensus on global
standards in the electrotechnical field.

16ISO/IEC 14443 standard is for proximity cards. It includes standards for
the physical characteristics, radio frequency power and signal interface,
and anticollision and transmission protocol for identification cards that
operate within 10 centimeters (3.94 inches).

17Air-interface operational requirements are the parameters for
interaction between a tag and the tag reader such as transmission and
receiving frequencies and the algorithms by which the tag reader can
communicate with the tag.

provide adequate protection of data for both security and privacy issues,
and define coding information contained on the tags. Currently, multiple
sets of standards guide the use of RFID technology. Additionally, multiple
standards-setting organizations have developed standards that support
these needs. These standards can vary based on the type of activity the
application is used for and the industry or country in which it is used.

    Multiple Organizations Develop RFID Standards

Multiple organizations, including international, national, private-sector,
and industry organizations, are involved in the development of RFID
standards. Appendix III contains an illustrative list of standards-setting
organizations.

International standards-setting organizations generally develop standards
through a process that is open to participation by representatives of all
interested countries, transparent, consensus-based, and subject to due
process. ISO and IEC are actively involved in developing RFID standards
for international use. ISO is an international association of countries,
each of which is represented by its leading standards-setting
organization. The scope of ISO is broad and includes all fields except
electrical and electronic standards, which are the responsibility of IEC.
ISO and IEC have jointly created several RFID standards.

National standards-setting organizations facilitate the development of
national standards for use within their country. For example, the American
National Standards Institute (ANSI) represents the United States to ISO
and facilitates the development of U.S. standards. ANSI, as well as other
national standards organizations, is involved in the development of RFID
standards. For example, the Standardization Administration of China has
established a National RFID Standards Working Group to draft and develop a
national standard.

Private-sector organizations involved in the development of RFID standards
can represent a single industry or multiple industries. For example, the
Automotive Industry Action Group, Universal Postal Union, and
International Air Transport Association have developed RFID standards for
their respective industries. Private-sector organizations that represent
multiple industries can develop a standard for a specific application. For
example, EPCglobal Incorporated, which partners with various industry
groups, has developed a series of specifications that DOD and various
private-sector users are implementing in their supply chains.

    Separate Standards Have Been Developed for Specific Applications

The standards-setting organizations have developed separate sets of
standards governing RFID systems for specific applications. The standards
used often depend on the type of activity the application is used for and
the industry or country in which it is used. Requirements of applications
often differ, and a single, common set of standards may not meet the needs
of all applications. Appendix IV contains an illustrative list of
standards used for RFID systems.

RFID applications such as supply chain, animal tracking, and access
control use separate standards because the needs of these applications
differ. As previously mentioned, the frequency used affects the
performance of tags in certain environments. For example, an animal
tracking application will likely use a standard that specifies the use of
the low-frequency range because this range performs well in environments
that require reading through materials such as water and body tissue. An
access control application that requires a read range of approximately 3
inches and the ability to read multiple tags simultaneously would likely
use a standard that specifies the use of the high-frequency range. A
supply chain application may likely use a standard that specifies the use
of the ultrahighfrequency range because this range provides a read range
of up to 15 feet and a read rate of 100 to 1,000 tags per second.

Industries such as the automotive, postal, and aviation, use standards for
industry-specific applications. They may use standards developed by
industry standards-setting organizations or standards developed by other
standards-setting organizations, such as ISO, IEC, and EPCglobal. For
example, the aviation industry uses a standard created by an industry
organization for identifying airplane parts by means of bar code and RFID
technologies. This standard requires the use of an ISO standard for
tracking parts.

There are also applications that only operate in a specific country. These
applications, such as national identification cards, may be governed by
national standards used only within that country.

Global Interoperability of For applications where global interoperability
between systems is
RFID Systems May Require necessary, such as electronic passports or global
supply chains, a common
International Standards set of international standards can assist with
proper interaction and

interchange of information between systems. For example, global
interoperability of machine-readable travel documents requires the use of
a

common international standard. As previously mentioned, the U.S.
Department of State has reported plans to use RFID technology in its
electronic passports.18 The United States and other countries are
anticipating using the International Civil Aviation Organization19 (ICAO)
Document 9303 standard, which prescribes an international format for
passports, visas, and other official machine-readable travel documents.

To maximize the global interoperability of supply chains using RFID
technology, it is important to ensure that the standards chosen can be
used in all relevant markets. Interoperability of global supply chains
using RFID technology means that tags used in one country can be read
easily by readers in other countries. ISO's item management standard for
frequency interoperability includes its ISO 18000 series. This series
addresses issues such as generic air interface parameters for globally
accepted frequencies and air interface communications parameters at
different operating frequencies. To complement ISO's standard, EPCglobal
has proposed its Generation 2 standard. EPCglobal claims that this
standard will allow for global interoperability of systems built to it for
supply chain management because frequency and power level used within this
standard comply with most relevant markets.20 As previously mentioned, DOD
and various private-sector organizations are currently using EPCglobal's
specifications in their supply chains; the specifications cover issues
such as placement of the tag, structure of the coding for the tag,
specifications for tag data, and parameters for interaction between a tag
and a reader.

  Federal Agencies Raise Few Legal Issues

Of the 16 agencies that responded to the question on legal issues
associated with RFID implementation in our survey, only one identified
what it considered to be legal issues. These issues relate to protecting
an individual's right to privacy and tracking sensitive documents and

18The proposed U.S. electronic passport will resemble a regular passport
with the addition of a small RFID chip embedded in the back cover. The
chip will securely store the same data visually displayed on the photo
page of the passport and will also include a digital photograph.

19ICAO was chartered by the United Nations to regulate international
aviation and includes the United States and 188 other nations.

20Each country makes its own allocations of spectrum use; therefore,
allocation decisions may differ in other regions of the world and in other
countries. Additionally, the allowable power for RFID devices is not
generally the same from region to region.

evidence. The remaining 15 agencies that responded did not raise legal
issues associated with RFID implementation.

  Security and Privacy Considerations with RFID

Several security and privacy issues exist that are related to federal and
commercial use of RFID technology. The security of tags and databases
raises important considerations concerning the confidentiality, integrity,
and availability of the data on the tags, in the databases, and in how
this information is being protected. Measures to address these security
issues, such as compliance with the risk-based framework mandated by FISMA
and employing encryption and authentication technologies, can help
agencies achieve a stronger security posture. Among the key privacy issues
are notifying individuals of the existence or use of the technology;
tracking an individual's movements; profiling an individual's habits,
tastes or predilections; and allowing for secondary uses of information.
While measures to mitigate these issues are under discussion, they remain
largely prospective.

    Security Considerations Relate to Data Confidentiality, Integrity, and
    Availability

Several agencies identified data confidentiality, integrity, and
availability as key security considerations with implementing RFID
technology. Thirteen agencies reported having implemented or having a
specific plan to implement RFID technology. Six of the 13 identified
security considerations. Specifically, these issues included ensuring that
only authorized readers or personnel have access to information,
maintaining the integrity of the data on the chip and stored in the
databases, and ensuring that critical data is fully available when
necessary. Other issues with implementing the technology included the
potential for various attacks, such as counterfeiting or cloning,21
replay,22 and eavesdropping; the possibility of electronic collisions when
multiple tags and/or readers are present; and the presence of unauthorized
components that may interfere or imitate legitimate system components.

21Cloning an RFID tag occurs when an attacker produces an unauthorized
copy of a legitimate tag.

22A replay attack is an attack in which a valid data transmission is
maliciously or fraudulently repeated, either by the originator or by an
adversary who intercepts the data and retransmits it.

Without effective security controls, data on the tag can be read by any
compliant reader; data transmitted through the air can be intercepted and
read by unauthorized devices; and data stored in the databases can be
accessed by unauthorized users.

    Practices and Tools in Place to Address Security Considerations

Using security practices and tools such as the risk-based framework
mandated by FISMA, encryption, and authentication can help mitigate the
security considerations associated with implementing RFID technology.

Implementing the security practices required in FISMA can help strengthen
the security of RFID systems that store information transmitted from tags.
FISMA requires each agency, including agencies with national security
systems, to develop, document, and implement an agencywide information
security program to provide information security for the information and
information systems that support the operations and assets of the agency,
including those provided or managed by another agency, contractor, or
other source. Specifically, this program is to include

o 	periodic assessments of the risk and magnitude of harm that could
result from the unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption,
modification, or destruction of information or information systems;

o 	risk-based policies and procedures that cost-effectively reduce
information security risks to an acceptable level and ensure that
information security is addressed throughout the life cycle of each
information system;

o 	subordinate plans for providing adequate information security for
networks, facilities, and systems or groups of information systems;

o 	security awareness training for agency personnel, including contractors
and other users of information systems that support the operations and
assets of the agency;

o 	periodic testing and evaluation of the effectiveness of information
security policies, procedures, and practices, performed with a frequency
depending on risk but no less than annually, and which includes testing of
management, operational, and technical controls for every system
identified in the agency's required inventory of major information
systems;

o 	a process for planning, implementing, evaluating, and documenting
remedial action to address any deficiencies in the information security
policies, procedures, and practices of the agency;

o 	procedures for detecting, reporting, and responding to security
incidents; and

o 	plans and procedures to ensure continuity of operations for information
systems that support the operations and assets of the agency.

Encrypting the data on the tags, in the air, or stored in a database may
also reduce the risk of unauthorized use or changes. Using encryption may
be particularly relevant for applications where sensitive information is
contained on the tag. Encryption is the process of transforming ordinary
data (commonly referred to as plaintext) into code form (ciphertext) using
a special value known as a key and a mathematical process called an
algorithm. Cryptographic algorithms are designed to produce ciphertext
that is unintelligible to unauthorized users. Decryption of ciphertext is
possible by using the proper key. Encryption technologies can be used to
(1) hide information content, (2) prevent undetected modification, and (3)
prevent unauthorized use. When properly implemented, encryption
technologies may provide assurance regarding the confidentiality,
integrity, or origin of information that has been exchanged. It may also
provide a method by which the authenticity can be confirmed. Without
strong encryption, the data may not be kept confidential. For instance, an
RFID chip that used a 40-bit key and a confidential cipher was
successfully reverse-engineered, thereby allowing the data to be
decrypted. One agency reported that its use of encryption as part of its
security measures has helped to prevent unauthorized interception of
communication.

Authentication, which is the process of verifying the claimed identity of
a user, can be used between tag and reader as a way to mitigate security
risks. Authentication of readers can help prevent the unauthorized reading
and/or writing to tags.

Privacy Issues Surrounding The extent and nature of the privacy issues
related to the federal and

RFID Use	commercial use depends on the specific proposed use. For example,
using the technology for generic inventory control would not likely
generate substantial privacy concerns. However, the use of RFIDs by the
federal government to track the movement of individuals traveling within
the United States could generate concern by the affected parties. Privacy

issues associated with RFID implementation include notifying individuals
of the existence or use of the technology; tracking an individual's
movements; profiling an individual's habits, tastes, or predilections; and
allowing for secondary uses of information.

o 	Notification. Individuals may not be aware that the technology is being
used unless they are informed that the devices are in use. Therefore,
unless they are notified, consumers may not be aware that the RFID tags
are attached to or embedded in items they are browsing or purchasing or
that the items purchased are being scanned.

o 	Tracking. Tracking is real-time, or near-real-time, surveillance in
which a person's movements are followed through RFID scanning. Media
reports have described concerns about ways in which anonymity is likely to
be undermined by surveillance. As previously reported, many civil
liberties groups are concerned about the application of this technology to
track individuals' movements, such as in a public school setting, and the
resulting loss of anonymity in public places. Additionally, periodic
public surveys have revealed a distinct unease with the potential ability
of the federal government to monitor individuals' movements and
transactions.23 Three agencies also indicated that employing the
technology would allow for the tracking of employees' movements.

o 	Profiling. Profiling is the reconstruction of a person's movements or
transactions over a specific period of time, usually to ascertain
something about the individual's habits, tastes, or predilections. Because
tags can contain unique identifiers, once a tagged item is associated with
a particular individual, personally identifiable information can be
obtained and then aggregated to develop a profile of the individual. As
previously reported,24 profiling for race, ethnicity, or national origin
has caused public debate in recent years. Both tracking and profiling can
compromise an individual's privacy and anonymity.

o 	Secondary uses. In addition to issues about the planned uses of such
information, there is also concern surrounding the possibility that

23GAO, Technology Assessment: Using Biometrics for Border Security,
GAO-03-174 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 15, 2002).

24GAO-03-174.

organizations could develop secondary uses for the information; that is,
information collected for one purpose tends over time to be used for other
purposes as well. This has been referred to as "mission-" or
"function-creep." The history of the Social Security number, for example,
gives ample evidence of how an identifier developed for one specific use
has become a mainstay of identification for many other purposes,
governmental and nongovernmental.25 Secondary uses of the Social Security
number have been a matter not of technical controls but rather of changing
policy and administrative priorities.

The widespread adoption of the technology can contribute to the increased
occurrence of these privacy issues. As previously mentioned, tags can be
read by any compatible reader. If readers and tags become ubiquitous,
tagged items carried by an individual can be scanned unbeknownst to that
individual. Further, the increased presence of readers can provide more
opportunities for data to be collected and aggregated. As the uses of
technology proliferate, consumers have raised concerns about whether
certain collected data might reveal personal information such as medical
predispositions or personal health histories and that the use of this
information could result in denial of insurance coverage or employment to
the individual. For example, the use of RFID technology to track
over-thecounter or prescription medicines has generated substantial
controversy. Additionally, three agencies raised the issue of protecting
personal data, such as date of birth and biometrics, contained on the tag
as well as the associated database that stores this information.

    Practices and Tools to Mitigate Privacy Issues Are in Progress

Implementing privacy practices and tools, such as existing requirements
contained in the Privacy Act of 1974 and the E-Government Act of 2002, and
employing proposed measures such as a deactivation mechanism on the tag,
blocking technology to disrupt transmission, and an opt-in/opt-out
framework for consumers can help mitigate some of these privacy issues.
While these proposed techniques may address some of the privacy issues,
they are largely prospective in nature.

An existing legal framework that addresses the privacy issues under which
federal agencies operate when implementing any new information technology
is defined in the Privacy Act of 1974, which limits federal

25GAO, Social Security Numbers: Government Benefits from SSN Use but Could
Provide Better Safeguards, GAO-02-352 (Washington, D.C.: May 31, 2002).

agencies' use and disclosure of personal information. The act's
protections are keyed to the retrieval of personal information by a "name,
or the identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular
assigned to the individual, such as a finger or voice print or a
photograph."26 The Privacy Act generally covers federal agency use of
personal information, regardless of the technology used to gather it. As a
practical matter, however, the Privacy Act is likely to have a limited
application to the implementation of RFID technology because the act only
applies to the information once it is collected, not to whether or how to
collect it. The E-Government Act's privacy impact assessments requirement,
however, provides a means of evaluating whether or not to collect
information based on privacy concerns.

Employing a mechanism that can deactivate, or "kill," a tag at the point
of sale, can prevent tracking of the individual and item once the tag
leaves a store. This feature would still provide the supply chain tracking
benefits to the retailer without providing additional information about
the consumer beyond the point of sale. However, enforcement may be a
challenge, as a tag may inadvertently be deactivated or remain dormant
with the potential to be reactivated. Additionally, consumers opting to
have the tags deactivated may have to undergo additional procedures that
may cost time or money.

Another proposed method is blocking technology. Devices that can disrupt
the transmission of all or selected information contained on a tag would
be embedded in an object that is carried or worn near RFID tags that the
individual wants blocked. This technology, however, has not yet been fully
developed. One challenge to its development may be the constant proximity
required between the blocker tag and the tag in order to disrupt data
transmission. Consumers may not consistently remember to juxtapose the
tags, thereby reducing the effectiveness of the technology. A physical
method of blocking currently in use is aluminum-coated Mylar27 bags, which
can absorb or diffuse RFID signals when placed over the tag. An example is
in toll payment systems where aluminum-coated Mylar bags are issued along
with the tag so that drivers can place their tags in the bag to prevent
them from being read inadvertently. Additionally, the State

265 U.S.C. S: 552a(a)(4).

27Mylar is a registered trademark of Dupont Tejin Films that generally
refers to plastic film. A common application is packaging film for food,
electronics, and medical devices.

Department is reported to have plans to include metal inside U.S. passport
jackets to help prevent the chip from being read by anyone except customs
and border agents.

Government and industry groups have also proposed using an opt-in/optout
framework. This framework would provide consumers with an option to
voluntarily participate in RFID transactions that gather data about them.
Consumers would be informed of the existence of the tags and the type of
information that would be collected and could then decide whether to
participate in the transaction or opt out. A concern of this hybrid system
is the potential disparity in benefits received between consumers who opt
in versus those who opt out, similar to customer loyalty cards, and the
notion that this framework might penalize consumers who articulate their
privacy preferences. Also, a study by the RAND Corporation has suggested
that organizations using RFID workplace access devices should implement
"fair information practices" and communicate those policies to
employees.28

The Federal Trade Commission, following research and consumer input at a
workshop it sponsored, announced in a March 2005 report that it would, for
the time being, allow companies that make and use the technology to
regulate themselves regarding consumer privacy. The Federal Trade
Commission report noted, however, that "many of the potential privacy
issues associated with RFID are inextricably linked to database security.
As in other contexts in which personal information is collected from
consumers, a company that uses RFID to collect such information must
implement reasonable and appropriate measures to protect that data."29

Other Areas of In addition to privacy and security, other areas of
consideration related to Consideration Are Relevant the adoption of RFID
technology include the reliability of tags and readers, to RFID Adoption
the placement of the tags, the costs and benefits of implementation, the

availability of tags, and environmental issues.

Reliability. Currently, tags are not always reliable and will not work
with some products or in certain situations. When something close to the
reader

28The RAND Corporation, Privacy in the Workplace: Case Studies on the Use
of Radio Frequency Identification in Access Cards, RB-9107-RC (Santa
Monica, Calif.: 2005).

29Federal Trade Commission, Radio Frequency Identification: Applications
and Implications for Consumers (Washington, D.C.: March 2005).

or tag interferes with the radio waves, read-rate accuracy decreases. For
instance, defective tags created by the manufacturer can be unreadable or
tags may be damaged during the supply chain process. Additionally, readers
can produce false negatives (a reader does not read a valid tag that
passes within the prescribed range) or false positives (a tag not intended
to be read inadvertently passes within range of a reader), which typically
occur with closely packed items where multiple tags are near each other.
Further, environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, can
make tags unreadable. Experts have indicated that tags read at high speeds
have a significant decrease in read rate. As the technology continues to
mature, these limitations may eventually be addressed, but currently they
remain a challenge to organizations. One agency official reported not
implementing the technology because its reliability was not at an
acceptable level.

Placement. The placement and orientation of the tag contributes to how
effectively the reader can scan it. Factors to consider in tag placement
are read and nonread points on objects such as items, cases, or pallets;
locations that minimize the risk of damage to the tag and have the highest
potential for a successful passive tag reading; and read points in
specific environments, such as an item running through a conveyor belt at
various speeds.

Some organizations, such as DOD, have documented procedures for tag
placement to help ensure placement precision, consistency, and efficiency.
Determining optimal tag placement may require software or an automated
application to improve this otherwise manual process.

Costs and Benefits. Best practices for information technology investment
dictate that prior to making any significant project investment, the costs
and benefits of the system should be analyzed and assessed in detail.30
The cost of the tags generally falls on the supplier, as it is the
supplier who tags the items. Retailers see benefits from RFID tags such as
improved product visibility during the supply chain process. Suppliers can
also see such benefits when they go beyond the "slap and ship"31 model and
find new

30GAO, Aviation Security: Challenges in Using Biometric Technologies,
GAO-04-785T (Washington, D.C.: May 19, 2004).

31"Slap and ship" is when a supplier tags the products with an RFID tag
right before shipping them to the retailer. Suppliers who slap and ship
generally will not benefit from the technology because they do not make
use of it for their own benefit.

ways to make the technology add value to gain a return on investment.
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, smaller
suppliers may earn little to no return because the costs associated with
implementing the technology, such as hardware, software, infrastructure,
middleware,32 and training will be a substantial portion of a small
supplier's budget. Additionally, their price per-tag may be high since
they do not order large quantities. Organizations need to determine if the
cost of implementing this technology, which is still in the early stages
of adoption, is worth the increased ability to collect and analyze data.

Availability. With increasing adoption of RFID technology, the
availability of tags may emerge as a growing concern. The increased
adoption of the technology will result in greater demand for tags. As a
result, the demand for tags may eventually outstrip the supply. Even if
industry can keep up with the demand, damage to the tags during production
may create a shortage. For instance, according to a research group's
survey of RFID vendors, up to 30 percent of chips are damaged during
production when they are attached to their antennae, and an additional 10
to 15 percent are damaged during the printing process. Improving tag
manufacturing and quality control processes may help increase the
availability of operative tags.

Environment. In September 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
and the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE) cohosted a
workshop on the impact of tags on the reuse and recycling of packaging
materials. Tags contain silicon, adhesives, and nickel, and the antennae
are typically made from copper, aluminum, or, if printed, silver.
According to OFEE, these elements of the tags are potential contaminants
for recyclers and manufacturers using recycled materials. As such, OFEE
and EPA believe that it is essential that these industries begin to
understand the potential impacts of having tags on packaging materials and
pallets and plan how to minimize the impact on the environment. One
manufacturer remarked on the lack of practicality in recycling because of
the small amount of silicon used in the chip. Currently, EPA does not
provide clear national guidelines on electronic waste (e-waste) disposal
nor has it defined its e-waste goals and measures. Consequently, states
are pursuing their own mechanisms to regulate e-waste. According to one
agency official, proper disposal of a tag, including reuse and recycling,
remains a challenge. As tagging begins to include cases, additional

32Middleware is software that connects two otherwise separate
applications.

environmental issues may arise because cases are not reusable, in contrast
to the pallets, which are reusable.

Summary	RFID technology can provide new capabilities as well as an
efficient method for federal agencies, manufacturers, retailers, and other
organizations to collect, manage, disseminate, store, and analyze
information on inventory, business processes, and security controls by
providing real-time access to information. Several federal agencies have
already begun testing and using the technology for access control and
tracking and tracing assets and documents.

Because various standards exist based on the application and the industry
or country in which it is used, interoperability may also be a factor to
consider, although a single, common set of standards may not be necessary
among different applications.

Few legal issues associated with RFID implementation were raised by the
agencies. The use of the technology, however, raises several security and
privacy considerations that may affect federal agencies' decisions to
implement the technology. Key security issues include protecting the
confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data and information
systems. The privacy issues include notifying consumers; tracking an
individual's movements; profiling an individual's habits, tastes, and
predilections; and allowing for secondary uses of information. In
addition, other areas such as the reliability, placement, and availability
of tags, along with the cost and benefits of implementation and
environmental concerns, are factors to consider. As agencies continue to
deliberate over implementation, the considerations we identified are among
the key factors to address.

Agency Comments	In providing comments via e-mail on a draft of this
report, representatives of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs and Office of General Counsel stated
that they agreed with the contents of the report. They also provided
technical comments that we addressed in the report, as appropriate.

We are sending copies of this report to interested congressional
committees. We will also provide copies to others on request. In addition,

the report will be made available at no charge on GAO's Web site at
http://www.gao.gov.

If you have any questions concerning this report, please call me at (202)
512-6244 or send an e-mail to [email protected] Key contributors to this
report are included in appendix V.

Gregory C. Wilshusen Director, Information Security Issues

Appendix I

                       Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

Our objectives were to (1) provide an overview of the technology, with an
emphasis on passive technology; (2) identify the major initiatives at
federal agencies that use or propose to use the technology; (3) discuss
the current standards, including those for interoperability, that exist;
(4) discuss potential legal issues that the 24 Chief Financial Officer
(CFO) Act agencies have identified in their planning for technology
implementation; and (5) discuss security and privacy considerations
surrounding the technology and the tools and practices available to
mitigate them.

To provide an overview of the technology, we analyzed research studies and
reports discussing the technology and its application. We also conducted
an extensive Internet search of professional information security
literature produced by information security experts, practitioners, and
news organizations. To identify the major initiatives that federal
agencies use or propose to use RFID technology for and their concerns, we
sent a questionnaire to 23 of the 24 executive branch agencies covered by
the CFO Act of 1990. The Department of Defense was not issued a survey
because relevant data were collected through other ongoing work we are
performing. All 23 agencies responded to our survey. We did not verify the
accuracy of the agencies' responses; however, we reviewed supporting
documents that agencies provided to help verify their responses. We
contacted agency officials when necessary to clarify their responses or to
obtain additional information about their use or proposed use of RFID
technology. We then analyzed agency responses to determine the extent to
which agencies are using or proposing to use RFID technology. In addition,
we analyzed their responses concerning security, privacy, legal, and other
issues related to RFID. We also reviewed prior reports and testimonies on
information security that discussed privacy and security issues.

To discuss the current standards, we met with leading standards-setting
organizations, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National
Institute of Standards and Technology to discuss the standards used, the
various standards-setting organizations, and the current state of
standards. We also reviewed relevant literature, research studies, and
reports.

To discuss the potential legal issues agencies identified in planning for
technology implementation, we analyzed agencies' survey responses and
reviewed relevant reports. We also assessed relevant legal issues
associated with the implementation of new information technology such as
RFID.

Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

Finally, to discuss the security and privacy considerations and the
practices and tools available to mitigate them, we contacted the agencies
and met with commercial suppliers, public interest groups, system
integrators, academics, and users to discuss their experiences with or
concerns related to the development and implementation of the technology.
We also interviewed scientists and experts from the National Academy of
Sciences, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the Federal Trade
Commission to discuss their current efforts, concerns, and expert opinions
on RFID technology and its applications. Further, we analyzed their
responses and related documents provided to identify the key security and
privacy concerns associated with RFID implementation. Lastly, we analyzed
relevant legislation, reviewed prior reports, and evaluated proposed
measures to identify practices and tools available to mitigate these
issues. We performed our review in Washington, D.C., from September 2004
through April 2005 in accordance with generally accepted government
auditing standards.

Appendix II

Research and Development Efforts Are Under Way

Further advancements in radio frequency technology and its applications
are anticipated. Some of these efforts include the development of organic
tags, reversed mobility of tags and readers, and embedded systems. Experts
have suggested that the widespread implementation of these current
research and development efforts is approximately 5 years away.

Organic Tags	Efforts are in progress to make printable RFID tags from
organic or carbonbased materials. This alternative may include printing
tags (including the antenna and chip) from carbon-based plastics.
Proponents claim that organic tags may eventually cost as little as 1 cent
per tag, thereby making item-level tagging more feasible. Organic tags,
however, may not be as powerful nor have as much data storage space as
tags with silicon chips. These tags are projected to operate at the 13.56
MHz (high-frequency) band.

  Reversed Mobility of Tags and Readers

Research is also under way to reverse the mobility of the tags and readers
so that the tags are stationary and the readers move. For example, a
security guard performing a routine perimeter check could scan a
stationary tag, located at each door, with a mobile reader to confirm that
the door is secured. The reader would transmit this information to a
central database, or control center, allowing for real-time monitoring of
the guard's status. This reversed functionality is being tested in the
energy, gas supply, and security industries. This usage could also be
helpful to first responders by providing reliable tracking of first
responders in environments when other technologies, such as global
positioning systems, are known to be unreliable. Additionally, critical
building and occupant information in specific on-site RFID tags has the
potential to enhance the safety and efficiency of the missions of first
responders, as well as minimize dependence on communication with other
external systems.

Embedded Systems	An embedded system is a special-purpose computer system
that is used within a device. An embedded system has specific requirements
and performs predefined tasks, unlike a general-purpose personal computer.
To date, embedded RFID chips have been tested in "smart" test tubes that
store data about the tube's contents, which has facilitated obtaining
correct information for identifying specimens and time-stamping doctor's
orders. Embedded chips in credit cards and mobile phones for contactless

Appendix II Research and Development Efforts Are Under Way

payments1 are also expected to become increasingly popular in Asia.
Embedded RFID chips are being proposed for use in numerous applications,
including electronic passports, tires to determine wear, drug containers
for tracking and theft control, and aircraft for maintenance.

1Contactless payments are noncash transactions where there is no physical
connection between the consumer's payment device and the point-of-sale
terminal.

Appendix III

Illustrative List of Standards-Setting Organizations for RFID Systems

Type of
standards body Organization Description

International International Organization for A network of national
standards institutes from 148 countries that works in Standardization
(ISO) partnership with international organizations, governments, industry,
and business and consumer representatives to develop technical standards.

International International Electrotechnical Produces international
standards for electrical, electronic, and related technologies. Commission
(IEC) Its members include manufacturers, providers, distributors, vendors,
consumers, users, all levels of governmental agencies, professional
societies, trade associations, and standards developers from over 60
countries.

International	International Civil Aviation Chartered by the United Nations
to regulate international aviation and includes the Organization (ICAO)
United States and 188 other nations.

International- professional Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers (IEEE) With more than 360,000 members in approximately 175
countries, the organization, through its members, works in the technical
areas ranging from aerospace, computers, and telecommunications to
biomedicine, electric power, and consumer electronics.

Regional Comite Europeen de Contributing to the objectives of the European Union
    and European Economic Area Normalisation (CEN) with voluntary technical
                                   standards.

                                                       Produces standards for 
Regional          European           telecommunications, broadcasting, and 
                                                          related areas, such 
                Telecommunications        as intelligent transportation and   
                                                medical electronics.          
             Standards Institute (ETSI) 
                                           Promotes and facilitates voluntary 
National      American National         consensus standards and conformity 
                                                                   assessment 
             Standards Institute (ANSI)     systems and safeguards their      
                                                     integrity.               
National British Standards Institute  Works with government, businesses,   
                                        and consumers to represent the United 
                                         Kingdom's interests and facilitate   
                       (BSI)            the production of British, European,  
                                                         and                  
                                              international standards.        

National	Japanese Industrial Consists of many national committees and
plays a central role in standardization Standards Committee (JISC)
activities in Japan.

                                                   Authorized to exercise the 
      National        Standardization      administrative functions and carry 
                                                              out centralized 
                  Administration of China administration for standardization  
                                                       in China.              
                           (SAC)          
                                                Working with its members, AIM 
Private sector       AIM Global              Global develops standards and 
                                                                practices for 
                                           automatic identification and data  
                                               collection technologies.       

Private sector EPCglobal, Inc.	A joint venture between EAN International
and the Uniform Code Council. Its subscribers include manufacturers,
retailers, wholesalers, carriers, government, hardware and software
companies, consultants, systems integrators, and training companies.
EPCglobal has developed a series of specifications for use in the supply
chain.

Industry Automotive Industry Action With more than 1,600 member companies
which include North American, European

                                  Group (AIAG)

and Asia-Pacific OEMs and suppliers to the automotive industry, the
organization developed standards for use in the automotive industry and
its goals include reducing cost and complexity within the automotive
supply chain.

Industry International Air Transport It is an inter-airline cooperation in
promoting safe, reliable, secure, and economical air Association (IATA)
services - for the benefit of the world's consumers. It has over 270
members from more than 140 nations.

                                  Appendix III
                     Illustrative List of Standards-Setting
                         Organizations for RFID Systems

                         (Continued From Previous Page)

Type of
standards body Organization Description

Industry	Universal Postal Union With 190 member countries, it is a
specialized agency of the United Nations that (UPU) governs international
postal service.

            Source: GAO analysis of standards-setting organizations.

Appendix IV

Illustrative List of Standards for RFID Systems

                   Standard Application Description Frequency

                                      ISO/IEC standard for                    
ISO/IEC 14443 Identification cards proximity cards. It includes  13.56 MHz
                                      standards for the             
                                      physical characteristics,     
                                      radio frequency power and     
                                      signal interface,             
                                          and anticollision and     
                                        transmission protocol for   
                                          identification cards      
                                         that operate within 10     
                                       centimeters (3.94 inches).   

                                      ISO/IEC standard for vicinity           
ISO/IEC 15693 Identification cards cards. It includes standards  13.56 MHz
                                                 for the            
                                      physical characteristics,     
                                      radio frequency power and     
                                      signal interface,             
                                      and anticollision and         
                                      transmission protocol for     
                                      identification cards          
                                       that operate within 1 meter  
                                        (approximately 3.3 feet).   

                                        ISO 11784 defines the code            
ISO 11784/11785  Identification of   structure for the           134.2 KHz
                                        identification of animals.  
                                           ISO 11785 defines the    
                         animals         technical concept of the   
                                                reader-tag          
                                           communication for the    
                                        identification of animals.  
                                          ISO standard for supply             
ISO 17363 DRAFT                          chain applications      433 MHz
                   Item management           regarding freight      
                   (freight containers)         containers.         
                                        An ISO/IEC standard for the 
    ISO/IEC 18000  Item management            air interface.        

o  Part 2 Below 135 KHz

o  Part 3 13.56 MHz

o  Part 4 2.45 GHz

o  Part 6 860-960 MHz

o  Part 7 433 MHz

                                    ISO/IEC implementation                    
    ISO/IEC TR24729-2   Recycling   guidelines for recycling   Not applicable
                                    RFID tags.                 
                                    EPCglobal Incorporated     
                                    specification that defines 
EPC Version 1.0/1.1 Supply Chain the physical               
                                      placement of the tag,    
     Specifications                 tag-coding structure, and  
                                             tag data          
                                          specification.       

o  900 MHz Class 0 RFID Tag Specification 900 MHz

o  860 MHz-930 MHz Class 1 RFID Tag Radio Frequency and Logical 860-930
MHz Communication Interface Specification

AIAG B-11	Tire and wheel Automotive Industry Action Group standard for
tire and wheel 862-928 MHz; identification identification. 2.45 GHz

                Source: GAO analysis of existing RFID standards.

Appendix V

                             Staff Acknowledgments

Staff 	Nicole Carpenter, Nancy Glover, Min Hyun, Carol Langelier,
Stephanie Lee, Suzanne Lightman, and Charles Roney made key contributions
to this

  Acknowledgments report.

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