Canadian Journal of Law and Technology


Allan Richarz


Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology, digital e-wallets, privacy concerns, mobile phone technology, RFID


Despite its ease and convenience, NFC technology raises a number of privacy issues. Chief among these concerns are the collection, retention, and usage of personally-identifying information contained within NFC-enabled devices by both private and public entities. Within that category, the most pressing privacy issues inherent in the collection and usage of such information relate to real-time tracking or after-the-fact habit profiling and identity theft. As well, privacy issues persist around the means used, if any, to secure and protect that information from unauthorized third parties both at the end-user and systemic database levels.

In light of these concerns, it is useful to examine the Japanese approach to NFC technology, both dealing with the physical technology itself, and the system of networks and databases in which that technology operates. Japan provides a strong model for comparison given the country’s long-standing use of NFC technology, and robust privacy-protection laws and industry guidelines which exist in relation to NFC usage. While privacy protection legislation exists in Canada, compliance is lacking and enforcement powers virtually non-existent for privacy commissioners. Amending Canada’s privacy legislation by taking cues from the Japanese model will allow Canada to better anticipate, and embrace, the “e-wallet revolution”.