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RFID Passports Raise Safety Concerns 459

Posted by Zonk
from the what's-this-all-aboot-ay dept.
CurtMonash writes "CNNMoney.com features a skeptical article about the US State Department's plans to soon issue RFID passports (currently being tested on State Department employees). One fear is that they can be hacked for information about you. And even if they can't, carrying around a little transmitter saying 'I'm an American! I'm an American!' isn't a fun and safe thing to do in all parts of the world." From the article: "Basically, you've given everybody a little radio-frequency doodad that silently declares 'Hey, I'm a foreigner,' says author and futurist Bruce Sterling, who lectures on the future of RFID technology. 'If nobody bothers to listen, great. If people figure out they can listen to passport IDs, there will be a lot of strange and inventive ways to exploit that for criminal purposes.'"
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RFID Passports Raise Safety Concerns

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  • yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by dolson (634094) on Friday July 14, 2006 @10:58AM (#15718828) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, that is important because I know when Americans visit say, China or India, they can blend right in with everyone else if they don't have that transmitter.
    • Re:yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:01AM (#15718852)
      Americans aren't the only caucasians out there. RFID nicely allows somebody to identify the hated Americans from the nice Canadians (and most Europeans).
      • Re:yeah (Score:5, Funny)

        by MrShaggy (683273) <chris.andersonNO@SPAMhush.com> on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:05AM (#15718893) Journal
        And being said Canadian, I am all for making it much easier to spot the difference. GO BUSH GO!
        • Re:yeah (Score:3, Interesting)

          But how hard is it to put the passport in an absorbent sleeve?

          And, for added juice, an additional transmitter in the absorbent sleeve announcing that you're CowboyNeal! Who says the era of Cowboy Diplomacy is over?
        • Re:yeah (Score:3, Funny)

          by HermanAB (661181)
          Hmm, the difference between a Canadian and an American is about 3dB, so it not too difficult to detect them...
      • by Fred_A (10934)
        We since we Europeans were having trouble identifying US tourists, this will be most welcome. Now we can finally have a coke with foie gras without being treated like foreigners. ;)
      • Re:yeah (Score:3, Informative)

        No it doesn't. Passports issued to Brits in the last few weeks have RFID chips. The excuse being given is that the US demanded it!
      • Re:yeah (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shaper_pmp (825142)
        And while I hate to be a bring-down, how long until we start seeing discrete RFID readers attached to personnel-sized IEDs in Iraq/Afghanistan/wherever the US invades/liberates next?

        You can have a thousand native citizens walk down a busy street, and the bomb doesn't go off until an American (or possibly, even a native with US embassy employee-ID) walks right past it.

        I know it's an essential part of the whole "keep 'em fat, stupid, scared and easily-trackable" agenda the US/UK governments have going, but I
        • Re:yeah (Score:2, Funny)

          by kerry-buckley (647774)
          I know it's an essential part of the whole "keep 'em fat, stupid, scared and easily-trackable" agenda the US/UK governments have going, but I find it hard to believe the USA (especially!) is actually making it easier to identify its tourists and overseas personnel.

          Presumably it's part of this "war on tourism" that I keep hearing Bush talking about.
      • Re:yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Otter (3800) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:30AM (#15719143) Journal
        As cherished as this notion is among Canadians in particular (after all traveling the world with an enormous maple leaf on your pack and every article of clothing is just the epitome of class and good taste), I've been to four continents in the last year and a half, and have never encountered a shred of anti-Americanism. This whole issue is nonsense driven by 1) idiot Americans who have never left the country, 2) idiot Americans projecting their own disdain for their neighbors onto foreigners and 3) Canadians. Anyway, even if you're concerned about this stuff, why not travel, make a good impression and improve the US's image.

        Meanwhile I see some guy here (you'll never guess from what country!) spinning a story of Americans pretending to be Canadian ON A CARIBBEAN FREAKING CRUISE! I'm sorry, if you're that stupid, don't leave home.

        • Re:yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

          by call -151 (230520) * on Friday July 14, 2006 @12:16PM (#15719581) Homepage
          Two things:

          1) Most people in Europe, Austalia, NZ and Asia that I have met realize that the Americans that they are likely to meet are not the ones who voted for Bush. The coasts have a much higher density of passport holders than the "Heartland," for example. (Active passport holders favored Kerry to Bush 58% to 35% [zogby.com].)

          2) The "obnoxious American" stereotype is partly a result of biased sampling. If there are two Americans somewhere, and one is a fat, obnoxious, non-local-language speaking lout with a Hawaiian shirt and a camcorder and the other is a quiet, sensible, local-language speaker, the locals may not even notice that the second is an American, let alone remember the encounter. I am an American, and when I am in Europe, I am frequently mistaken as being Dutch, perhaps because I have a beard, a bicycle and can communicate passibly in any one of about five standard European languages, even if I don't happen to speak the local language. I also usually do not go out of my way to correct this misconception...
      • Re:yeah (Score:2, Insightful)

        by TRS80NT (695421)
        And there are Asian-Americans, some of whom visit Asia.


    • Re:yeah (Score:2, Interesting)

      I suppose the worrying side of that is that weapons such as mines or explosives or even rockets could be RFID seeking, not just americans in general, but specific people/groups
    • Re:yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Potor (658520)
      What about Chinese Americans visiting their homeland?
    • I guess you use India as an example because you think Americans blend right in with the locals in, say, London. He he he...
    • Re:yeah (Score:3, Funny)

      by SCHecklerX (229973)
      ok, how about an unattended claymore that is configured to go off when it sees the RFID? Didn't think of that, did ya!
  • by f0dder (570496) on Friday July 14, 2006 @10:58AM (#15718830)
    So if I wrap my RFID laden passport in tinfoil I am safe right? right?
  • by blindbug (979761) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:00AM (#15718840)
    One fear is that they can be hacked for information about you. And even if they can't...
    It can... and it will be... period.
  • Aren't RFID tags a passive technology? It doesn't hang around "broadcasting" anything, but it can be queried. Am I wrong here?

    • There are 2 types of RFID tags from what I understand
    • Re:Confused? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mayhem178 (920970) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:09AM (#15718927)
      As I understand it, RFID cards don't do anything until they're exposed to an electromagnetic field, which gives them just enough juice to fire off a message, usually an identity code. Unless I've been completely misinformed, you'd have to generate quite the field to even have a chance of reading one of these things at a distance. I know that my RFID card doesn't work until it's within a coupla inches of the appropriate reader.

      The whole "it's broadcasting all of your personal information!!!!" hype is a bunch of FUD. The only way it could really be a security risk is if the card itself was stolen, and then it's really no different than having your S.S. card or driver's license stolen.
      • Right, because no one could walk around an airport or through a train with a suitecase containing an RFID reader.
        • Re:Confused? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mayhem178 (920970)
          As I understand it, in order to read an RFID chip, you have to be close. We're talking a matter of inches. So, not only would the guy with the reader have to know exactly where your card is on your person, but he'd have to shove the reader practically right up against you. I think you'd probably notice if he started rubbing you with his suitcase.

          I'm not saying it's impossible, but I'm not losing any sleep at night over my RFID card.
          • People should lose sleep over their RFID tagged passports. The federal government has repeatedly demonstrated incompetance when it comes to our safety and privacy. We should be able to trust them, but we obviously can't. The public needs to keep a close eye on them. Otherwise even more mistakes will be made.
          • Re:Confused? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Bastian (66383) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:50AM (#15719339)
            You have it right. I used to go to a school which used RFID keycards to open doors. In that particular case, it wasn't even a matter of inches - the card had to be within about two centimeters of the reader.

            It would take a heck of a lot more juice than what those readers put out to make something that's actually useful for reading these passport chips remotely. Assuming the effective range on the readers I've used was exactly 2cm, the inverse square law tells us that doubling the power my chip out (and keepin the reader's receiver at the same power) would increase the range to 2.83cm, quadrupling it would get us to 4cm, octupling it would get us up to 5.66cm. . . and by the time you get to the point where a potential passport snooper isn't making himself *really* suspicious by running around an airport waving his briefcase next to everyone's baggage, you've got yourself quite an RFID reader. And then you throw on the shielding that's being put into these RFID passports and it's back to square one.

            Not saying it's impossible to make a device that effectively identifies Americans by their passports, just saying that everyone should probably put their tinfoil hats on now because a device like that would probably give you one heck of a headache.
            • Re:Confused? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by katsiris (779774) on Friday July 14, 2006 @12:24PM (#15719648)
              Since RFID tags use the transmitting signal to send a reply, the strength and therefore distance that it will transmit or echo is dependant largely on the signal of the detector. Obviously the tags themselves can't rebroadcast an infinitely large signal, but the fact that you needed to get close to the doors at your school is a design feature of the doors and not a limitation of the technology. After all, they don't want doors unlocking just because someone is walking by...
            • Re:Confused? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)
              by the time you get to the point where a potential passport snooper isn't making himself *really* suspicious by running around an airport waving his briefcase next to everyone's baggage, you've got yourself quite an RFID reader.

              Of all the possible threat models, you've picked the least likely. If you are in an airport you can probably just look at the guy's luggage tags.

              No, the threat is out in the real world where there is plenty of opportunity to disguise super-huge equipment. Like a doorway where the e
            • Re:Confused? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by natet (158905)
              You are basing your assumptions on the fact that there will be no advances in the technology involved with RFID readers. The fact that you had to be within a very short range for your school tag to be read doesn't mean that it will always be the case, or that your school didn't just go with cheap tech instead of a nicer reader. Further, the field to power the tag itself may be small, but what's the broadcast range of the tag? Could someone with a passive reader pick up the signal from your tag being read
      • I have no technical knowledge about RFIDs, but would it be possible to not allow the RFID to respond to the "scan" request unless the user/holder OK's it. Say by integrating a fingerprint reader into the passport as well. This would also seem like another general security measure. Where the user/holder must place the finger on the passport to "activate" it.

        I don't know whether fingerprint readers are getting tiny enough to be embedded in something that small, but it seems like a good idea. I would be

      • I'm sure that if there is a bomb that is nearby configured to go off when the proper RFID signal is detected, said bomb can certainly send out the RF needed to light up the RFID tag.
    • There are passive and active RFID transmitters. The ones they're referring to be used in the passports would be passive. Passive transmitters can have batteries, but these ones would not, meaning the reader would have to be very close to read them... or VERY powerful (car-sized). Furthermore, RFID chips have security protocols and they are fairly safe (nothing is unhackable). The only safety concern is the possibility that someone with either a very large and powerful reader could read you at range or s
    • The place I work uses passive RFID badges to let us into the building (and to get through doors in the building)...the readers do not work until you get the badge to within an inch of it. If the technology is like this, it would be impossible to read "at a distance"
    • Re:Confused? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:50AM (#15719354)
      It's only passive until you bring it within range of a receiver.

      That's secure in the same way as an object that's only invisible until you look at it, or a door that's only locked until you try the handle.

      Passive RFID chips are likely harder to detect at range than active ones (for obvious reasons), but no-one's answered the question yet: Why do we need ranged querying at all?

      Much, much safer would be a normal smart-card chip (like the one in your credit card) that requires physical contact to read anything. Frankly, once somone's got their hands on your passport it doesn't matter if it's a smart-card or normal paper one - they can easily find out things about you from it (or just nick it) at that point.

      Allowing ranged querying seems to offer no really compelling benefits, and opens up a whole can of worms on issues like personal security, remotely tracking/identifying people without their knowledge, you name it.
  • RFID security (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:00AM (#15718846) Journal
    I know that having your personal data stolen isn't any fun, it'll be worse if they put biometric data in there as well (I don't know what data the US passports currently have, in the UK we'll be having that put in soon). but for me a bigger concern is that they can be infected with a virus, which could quite easily be used to cause havok with the computers at airports and possibly bring the whole system down... the register reported on the proof of concept here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/03/15/rfid_tags_ infected_by_virus/ [theregister.co.uk]
  • by ralf1 (718128) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:01AM (#15718849)
    For my new lead lined briefcase. Who cares if it weighs 125 pounds.
  • What's the range? (Score:3, Informative)

    by gasmonso (929871) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:02AM (#15718864) Homepage

    How far are you broadcasting in the first place? If its like 10 feet who cares? Now in good practice, whenever I travel I leave my passport in the safe at the hotel. Not really a good idea to walk around with it ;)

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • by Sloppy (14984)
      How far are you broadcasting in the first place? If its like 10 feet who cares?

      What a convenient tool for implementing an application named "proximity fuse."

      • Re:What's the range? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Phillup (317168)
        What a convenient tool for implementing an application named "proximity fuse."

        Better yet "minimum target count".

        Place a bomb at desired location... have it count the number of 'mericans in the vicinity... when the number exceeds a certain threshold... detonate.

        Cool new way to make sure you don't waste explosive!

        Other variations abound.

        Place bomb inside but trigger at doorway. Count number of individuals that pass through door. Detonate when target amount reached. Of course this method can't account for pers
  • "Basically, you've given everybody a little radio-frequency doodad that silently declares 'Hey, I'm a foreigner,'"

    Whenever I have questions about Passports or Immigrations, I always say WWFD (What Would Fez [that70sshow.com] Do?)
  • I am a free man (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:04AM (#15718882) Homepage Journal
    Barring the bloody obvious target painted on you, they say in the article:

    They'll have radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and are meant to cut down on human error of immigration officials, speed the processing of visitors and safeguard against counterfeit passports.

    Human error will still occur in whichever system a human is involved in.

    Couldn't they get all the same benefits with a simple barcode?
    Does the RFID hold just your ID number for lookup on the database or is the RFID part now full identification?

    I hope this doesn't go ahead (like the UK now isn't going ahead with its ID scheme) because whilst RFID might make tracking warehouse stock easy, its not great for humans.
    Just because the technology exists doesn't mean we should use it for everything.
    • If it's made by humans, it isn't perfect. Most RFID tags are just a unique identifier which is a lookep for a database. You could put such information on a 3D barcode- look at the back of your drivers lic. It holds all the info on the front and is easily scanned, yet it isn't vulnerable from a distance.
    • They'll have radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and are meant to cut down on human error of immigration officials, speed the processing of visitors and safeguard against counterfeit passports.

      Sounds to me like it's an additional way to verify the identity, not a replacement. Assuming they use encryption/etc, it should be a lot harder to fake a passport.

      Nothing will stop a determined counterfeiter, I'm sure, but the newbies won't be able to handle this.

    • Couldn't they get all the same benefits with a simple barcode?

      That's a damned good question. The government has given absolutely zero reason why the chip on the passport needs to be accessed remotely. I'm sure there are plenty of solutions that would give the same information but require physical access to the passport. This is a stupid government "we're going to jump on a new technology because it is cool" trick.

      The whole *point* of RFID was to replace barcodes because on assembly line like systems th

    • take a look inside your passport some time, i expect you'll see a bunch of barcodes (mine does, although it's a south african passport that's about to expire. not sure what the newer passports look like these days).
  • Is This Madness? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blueZhift (652272) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:05AM (#15718894) Homepage Journal
    Surely they cannot be unaware of how this could be exploited by those wishing to do harm to Americans, therefore I can only reach the conclusion that rfid passports are being pushed as a way for the government to ultimately track people in general. It would begin with being able to track foreigners and later as rfid makes its way into things like driver's licenses and auto plates, it could be used to track citizens. This is probably a goal of governments everywhere these days. First they'll tell you it's to stop terrorists, but with a flick of the switch, tracking citizens will be a breeze. I know the effective range is pretty short, but I can imagine that it would not be too hard for the government to build out an effective network, certainly in the most densely populated cities. It might even be able to piggy back on cell phone tower locations, so ordinary people wouldn't even know it was there. Ironically, true terrorists will be able to easily defeat this kind of tracking.
  • by Dr_LHA (30754) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:07AM (#15718912) Homepage
    This gives me a great idea for a new business opportunity! Sell RFID tags to American tourists that broadcast to the world "I AM A CANADIAN".
    • It could be sold as part of the Canadian Disguise Kit, containing:

      $50 in Canadian Tire Money
      Milk in a bag
      Those Groucho glasses with the fake nose and moustache on them (trust me on this)
      Ticket stubs from a recent Gordon Lightfoot concert
      and a mini Canadian phrase book
  • by ConsumerOfMany (942944) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:08AM (#15718914)
    Lets say you burn out the RFID using something like This [typepad.com]

    Will you still be allowed to travel with just the written portion of the passport. Hell, just go around burning up other peoples passports and the riots will soon begin in the security line....

    • by jcupitt65 (68879) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:31AM (#15719146)
      The UK's ID card regulations include a £1,000 fine if you know your card to be defective but do not report it :-(

      You will be required to attend an enrolment centre with some form of identifying material - bank statements, credit cards, driving licence or birth certificate, who knows what. Then you will be fingerprinted, photographed and the iris in your eye will be measured. You will give the authorities 49 pieces of information about yourself. If you don't, you may be fined up to £2,500. Additional fines of up to £2,500 may be levied every time you fail to comply.

      If you fail to inform the police or Home Office when you lose your card, or if it becomes defective, you face a fine of up to £1,000. If you find someone else's card and do not immediately hand it in, you may have committed a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment for up to two years, or a fine, or both. And you will be fined £1,000 if you fail to inform the NIR of any change of address. You will also be expected to tell the authorities your previous addresses. Truly the government will be able to say with all the menace of the underworld enforcer: "We know where you live."

      If you don't inform the register of significant changes to your personal life, or any errors they have made, you will face a fine of up to £1,000. Astonishingly, you may also face a fine if you fail to submit to being reinterviewed, rephotographed, refingerprinted and rescanned.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1817436,00.h tml [guardian.co.uk]
  • Why not just have the case lined with tin-foil or a thin metal sheet of some kind. Then when it is needed to be checked you have to open the case and/or take it out. These cases can be distributed with the Passports. In my experience with RFID wrapping it in tin-foil alone stops it from working (My work makes me use one to get into the office, yes I have tested this)
    • Why not just have the case lined with tin-foil or a thin metal sheet of some kind.

      I'm assuming that the "anti-skimming material" mentioned in the article is a thin sheet of foil embedded in the cover. I could see how a damaged cover or one that's not closed completely would allow RF leakage. Perhaps the best solution would be something like an old metal cigarette case that snaps shut around the passport and won't open unless you want it to. Hmmm ... marketable idea...

      -b.

    • Last I heard, that was actually the plan! Foil in the cover/binding, IIRC, with the tag inside so that it can only be read (easily?) when opened.
  • With every technology advance in security, there will be those who break it. And then another technology advance comes, that will be broken. We've been playing this cat and mouse game for nearly 5000 years. Nothing is going change.
    • But why hand people the way to break it?

      The problem isn't that it is an electronic chip. No one has a problem with that. The problem is that the chip is designed to be read by radio, automatically, at range.

      Give me a good scenero where I want someone able to read my passport without me being able to hand it over to them. I can think of a few places where it might speed things up a bit, but no legitimate ones where it would save more than a few seconds.

      On the other hand, I can think of lots of illegitimat
  • Get yours now! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:09AM (#15718933)
    US passports are good for 10 years from the date of issue. Get or renew yours now, before RFID becomes required.
  • If anything it'll just make it so that fewer Americans travel abroad outside of areas that the feds want them to. In case anyone's not noticed it, but we have a very perverse open borders policy. We'll allow immigrants to flood our borders, but damned if we'll allow Americans to come and go freely without having to report almost every dime of property they're taking out and where they're going.
  • Just drop your RFID-contaminated passport into a microwave oven and turn the oven on for a few seconds. Tadaa!, toasted RFID chip with no visible sign of manipulation.

    Tux2000
  • Could you or I get one of these new Passports and get it home... and proceed to slam it with a hammer? I mean, the passport is still just paper, but with this little thing inside. What would happen? It would break, but you could never tell if it stopped working. So the next time you go to fly/leave the country, you could just say "I didn't know it stopped working?" which is pretty true, unless you had a RFID reciever in your home.
    This would be the simple answer to all those who fear the wrath of the RFID t
  • by dbc001 (541033) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:20AM (#15719039)
    My guess is that some enterprising RFID Entrepeneur got into the Old Boys Network and landed some massive contract. Here in Missouri we have s imilar situation - Within just a few months of the state mandating increased ethanol in all gasoline, the governor's brother was found to have invested a substantial amount of money in ethanol (Matt Blunt is governor if your curious, see here for info on the ethanol scandal [kansascity.com]). Their orwellian response was simply to state that "there is no conflict of interest here."

    It would be nice to know who got the contract, what city they live in and what relationships they have with government.
  • Connect a bomb with an RFID reader and wait for the "right" signal...

    Too expensive? Oh c'moooon, those babies are BUILT where they would potentially be used that way, you save big time on shipping costs!
  • Yeah well. Not good. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by botzi (673768) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:21AM (#15719045)
    And even if they can't, carrying around a little transmitter saying 'I'm an American! I'm an American!' isn't a fun and safe thing to do in all parts of the world."

    So, the issue, you consider is that the transmitter is giving away your nationality and NOT that it's a....I dunno. a BLOODY TRANSMITTER?( worst case scenaria, and I'm really going off the top of my head here, how about professional passport thieves:"Hey, there is a city building with 24 passports in there, let's see which suits are empty at the moment, and do some damage."(I'd think anybody smart enough to detect the signal would be smart enough to block it afterwards)). I'd be appalled if other countries follow suit, I fear that they will. Let's just hope that there is enough damage done the moment they try to use RFID's so the launch fails.
  • by KDN (3283) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:22AM (#15719059)
    A bomb in a cafe that only goes off when there are over a certain number of americans in range. Or, if you can tell, when a certain number of american military are within range. Or a diplomat.
  • There are devices that shield RFID signals right? How about the state department design the passport in such a way that it prevents reading of the passport unless it's open. The cover should be shielded. If not, they should recommend keeping the passport in a shielded bag at all times unless it is being presented.

    Either way, people can protect themselves whether it is in the design or not.
  • In the last couple of months our passports have been upgraded to include RFID chips. In fact I renewed mine early to try and get one without one but they were rather quick of the mark upgrading. At least I got in before the interviews and biometrics. Like others here I have been thinking along the lines of a tin foil cover. You can get passport wallets which protect a passport from damage. May be one can be modified to protect it from snooping too...
  • by BeBoxer (14448) on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:25AM (#15719091)
    I just do not understand the insistance/fascination with RFID in this case. Think about the situation when these RFID's are supposed to be used. You are entering a country via immigration, and you hand your passport to the immigration agent. There is no need and no benefit to involving a radio. The agent could just as easily slip your passport into a reader which uses actual metal contacts as wave it over the RFID scanner. It would probably cost less, and would have none of the security concerns (valid or not) that the RFID chips have.

    I can only think of two possibilities. One is just good old fashioned corruption. It's no secret that the GOP has pretty much put a 'For Sale' sign out front of the Capital, so it may just be a way to send a bunch of money to a valuable 'doner'. Or they have some requirement which needs RFID, but is being kept secret.

    I suppose they could almost completely automate letting US citizens back into the country. Will I be able to use my RFID passport to scan in to the country just like I do with my work badge to get into the machine room or co-lo? I can see benefits for having an express lane at immigration for citizens with RFID passports so we don't have to wait behind all the riff-raff :-) Just walk up to the gate, wave your passport at it, and 'beep', you're back in the country.
    • I just do not understand the insistance/fascination with RFID in this case.

      Because smart cards were invented in the 70s [wikipedia.org] and the patent has expired. Thus not putting money into the pocket of your "constituents*" as fast as a patented technology would.

      So... they aren't the ones that did the lobbying.

      When it comes to politics... "why" is always easy.

      Just follow the money.

      *constituent: the people that bribed you

  • I'm thinking that my microwave will do some serious damage to any RFID transmitter built into your passport. Has anyone tried this yet?
  • by MCraigW (110179) <(moc.revaewgiarcm) (ta) (giarc)> on Friday July 14, 2006 @11:55AM (#15719403) Homepage
    Austrailia, New Zealand and Singapore already have RFID passports. The information that can be obtained from the chip is encrypted, and will only be readable using the public-key which is encoded in a machine readable format inside the passport http://www.dfat.gov.au/dept/passports/ [dfat.gov.au]. Doesn't seem like there is a security vulnerability.

    People fear what they don't understand.

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