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Near Field Communications and privacy study launched by LSE and Nokia

A study into the implications of Near Field Communications (NFC) for users' privacy, in a mobile telecoms market where technology is converging, is being launched by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Nokia.

Researchers from LSE will investigate how information generated by customers of mobile services is being used and whether customers' behaviour is affected by concerns about privacy. They will also look at the regulations and policies governing NFC in Europe and Asia and consider the incentives and barriers to the commercial development of NFC.

The use of NFC in public transport ticketing schemes – such as the Oyster card in London and the Octopus card in Hong Kong – and applications in retailing – allowing customers to find out more about their purchases via an NFC 'tag' on a product for example –  will provide case studies for the research. 

The research team will also interview a number of experts in law, policy and industry about trends in investment and policy and regulation and legal issues.  

Jonathan Liebenau, Reader in Technology Management at LSE, who will lead the project said: 'Issues of privacy are especially important for companies using NFC given the rise of the "citizen user" – technology savvy individuals who are very aware of how they are generating information about themselves and how this might be potentially abused. If these users are not convinced that they can trust technologies that employ NFC it could affect how willing they, and others, are to adopt them.'

NFC wireless technology allows information to be exchanged, via radio signals, between two NFC-enabled devices over short distances. To date they have largely been used for contactless travel card tickets and mobile phones with an 'electronic wallet' function, which allows people to make payments with their phones.

Mark Selby, Nokia's Vice President of Industry Collaborations said: 'Nokia has provided NFC-enabled mobile phones for commercial services in many countries since 2005. New, exciting services are emerging and Nokia is working with partners to ensure their successful deployment. As use of NFC continues to expand, Nokia is keen to understand the implications for the privacy of consumers, as well as regulations and policies concerning commercial services.'

Jonathan Liebenau said. 'Our study will include recommendations for policy makers to help them understand the social and economic implications of NFC-based systems.'

The study is expected to be published by summer 2011.


Posted 12 January 2011

Journalists wanting more information should contact Sue Windebank in the LSE press office T: 020 7 955 7060 E: s.windebank@lse.ac.uk