SAP Calls for Open Discourse on RFID and Data Privacy

This discussion commences today at SAP’s Berlin, Germany offices, where SAP is hosting industry leaders and political representatives in the first of a series of RFID discussions aimed at facilitating open discourse among all stakeholders to clear up misconceptions and differences of opinion and to find common ground. SAP, a market leader in solutions that link RFID data to business application software, is driving this initiative to address concerns about privacy issues that are impeding widespread RFID adoption and subsequently the development of the technology itself. Intended to bring together industry and business leaders, political groups, IT vendors and privacy advocates, further SAP-hosted RFID panel discussions are planned for the coming months and will also run in conjunction with key trade events such as National Manufacturing Week, taking place next year in Chicago, Illinois, March 7 – 10 and CeBIT 2005, being held in Hanover, Germany, March 10 – 16.
As part of this call to action, SAP will additionally be establishing an SAP Community Web forum devoted to RFID-related issues. Planned to go live at the beginning of October 2004, this completely open online forum will enable customers, partners, vendors and any other interested parties to collaborate on topics and share information. While there is a broad consensus across diverse industries as to the business benefits of RFID, concerns abound as to the technology’s potential intrusion into private spheres. Privacy groups cite the technology’s potential to expose the “transparent consumer,” while proponents insist that RFID data is primarily product-based and that the collection of consumer data is only possible with the consumer’s express and free consent. Parallel to its existing efforts to support standards bodies, SAP acknowledges that all RFID stakeholders should contribute to the process of establishing clear standards on RFID, consumer protection and data privacy issues.
“RFID and data privacy and security are issues that need leadership – SAP has the reach and credibility to bring the interested parties together,” said Claus Heinrich, executive board member, SAP AG. “In order for a new technology to gain wide-spread acceptance, businesses and the public should be well informed of its advantages and implications. SAP is dedicated to establishing an environment of knowledge and trust where RFID is implemented in a practical and responsible manner. We therefore intend to facilitate a continuing open discussion among stakeholders to find ways to address concerns through industry standards, accepted guidelines and responsible corporate citizenship. As SAP continues to break new ground in tapping the potential of RFID business applications for our customers, we will actively drive the open debate on this promising new technology.”

Paving the way for RFID adoption

SAP has been conducting RFID research since 1998 and is a driving force in developing RFID technology. The new SAP initiative will complement SAP’s firm commitment to helping establish industry-driven standards such as those set forth by EPCglobal Inc., an initiative of leading research institutes and global organizations. SAP is a founding member of the organization’s forerunner, the Auto-ID Center. Since March 2003, SAP has been working closely with its RFID Customer Council, comprising more than 60 companies from the aerospace and defense, consumer products, pharmaceutical and retail industries. At the governmental level, SAP is already engaging in the debate as a member of security-related public organizations in Europe and the United States.

Source: SAP AG