RFID Passports

Last week, the US “State Department approved technology that will allow passport cards, which can be used by U.S. citizens instead of a passport when traveling to other countries in the western hemisphere, to be read from up to 20 feet away. ”

You can read more about it here.

News about the likely introduction of RFID passwords is nothing new and Bruce Schneier expressed his thoughts on this subject over three years ago here.

Unfortunately, RFID chips can be read by any reader, not just the ones at passport control. The upshot of this is that travelers carrying around RFID passports are broadcasting their identity.

Schneier was even more critical going on to say “this seems like a clear case of the Bush administration putting its own interests above the security and privacy of its citizens, and then lying about it.”

There is more detail on the concerns posed by the “US Center for Democracy & Technology” that you can download in pdf format here. Here are some of the best bits…

Long-range RFID technology like that used in the GEN-2 protocol was never meant for human identification. Rather, it was designed for the tracking of things…security of the UHF RFID system, while important, was not a top priority….a technology meant to track products cannot be retrofitted with the level of security that is necessary for identifying people.

It sounds so good that I’m surprised our own Government haven’t proposed something similar yet..oh, they have?