The European Commission (EC) has released formal optional guidelines on the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on clothing and other products and packaging, saying they should become operational only if consumers explicitly opt-in at the point of sale.

Otherwise, said the guidelines, "smart chips…should be deactivated automatically, immediately and free-of-charge."

They added that companies using smart chips should give consumers "clear and simple information" on how personal data included on the chips will be used; the type of collected data (such as name, address, date of birth); on devices reading the information; and a contact point for further assistance.

By Keith Nuthall.