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American Passports to Have RFID Chips

CowboyNeal posted about 10 years ago | from the big-brother-and-the-watchmen dept.

Privacy 668

pr1000 writes "Wired is reporting that the State Department is planned on adding RFID chips to new American passports, starting with diplomat's passports in January. Those worried about the privacy concerns of RFID should take notice, as this rollout could set a precedent."

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drop the extra prices, sitt still in the båt (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596339)

drop the extra prices, sitt still in the båt

fr1st ps0sst7 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596340)


YOU FAIL IT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596349)


Re:YOU FAIL IT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596376)

fael it

plz yoos pr0p3r gr4mm3r

thank u

jesus loves u

he died for ur sins

so please do not fuck in the ass. bush does not like it. jesus does not like it.

thank you.

jesus loves J00!

Thank you! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596384)

Thank you very much please come again.

Sad news, Britney Spears dead at 22 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596392)

Sad news, Britney Spears dead at 22

I just heard some really sad news on Fox - Singer and Popstar Britney Jean Spears was found dead in her Louisana home this morning.

Apparently, the cause of death was excessive bleeding after a sizzling night of hot anal sex with her ex. boyfriend, Justin Timberlake.

"We were just having good sushi, and she asked me if I would please her", said Justin. Although he has since turned gay after his breakup with her, Justin was willing to please Britney as long as she would take it up her ass.

Following a night of sex for 10 hours, Britney sustained an injury in her lower vaginal area and subsequently bled to death. Her husband Kevin Federline, who is at the moment spending time at a federal prison for sexual advances towards Natalie "hot grits" Portman was not available for comment.

However, President George W Bush offered his comments on the incident. "Here is the reason why anal sex is bad and why gays are unAmerican, they kill Americans and American icons", he was quoted as saying.

There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will surely miss her - even if you didn't enjoy her work, there's no denying her contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.


Hit me baby, one more time. I'll miss you, oh baby baby.

Indeed, Britney. Indeed. Rest in peace, child.

Re:Sad news, Britney Spears dead at 22 (0, Offtopic)

Jaruzel (804522) | about 10 years ago | (#10596409)

Britney sustained an injury in her lower vaginal area

After Anal sex? That's clever.

Fact - Music in North America is dying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596456)

It is official; Netcraft confirms: music in North America is dying.

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered North American music community when IDC confirmed that North American music market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all other entertainment. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that music in North America has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. music in North America is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent Pop Star comprehensive stardom contest.

You don't need to be a Slashdotter [] to predict North America's musical future. The hand writing is on the wall: music in North America faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for music in North America because music in North America is dying. Things are looking very bad for music in North America. As many of us are already aware, music in North America continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

Pop Music is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its sexy singers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time Pop Stars Britney Ugly Spears and Christina Fuck-Me Aguilera only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: Pop Music is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

Pop star Ho-Nate states that there are merely 7000 listeners of Pop. How many users of Rock are there? Let's see. The number of Rock versus Pop songs on the radio is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 listeners of Rock. Other genre songs on KaZaa are about half of the volume of Rock songs. Therefore there are about 700 listeners of alternative music. A recent article put North American chick flick Pop at about 80 percent of the music in the North American market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 music listeners. This is consistent with the number of songs on the radio.

Due to the troubles at Washington, War on Terror, political instability, abysmal sales and so on, Pop Music went out of business and was taken over by eminent rappers such as the linguistically talented Mr. Marshall Mathers, who tries to sell what is called "american rap trash". Now American Rap is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

All major surveys show that music in North America has steadily declined in market share. music in North America is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If music in North America is to survive at all it will be among dilettante entertainment dabblers. Music in North America continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, music in North America is dead.

Fact: music in North America is dying.

fp (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596341)


YOU FAIL IT TOO (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596357)


Law Enforcement (2, Insightful)

nwmakel (816545) | about 10 years ago | (#10596352)

Privacy issues aside, this could come in incredibly handy for those travelling abroad and being robbed. Much too often tourists are burgled of all their stuff, including passport, if the passport could be located, so might their other stuff including the thief.

Or, on the other hand for target selection (5, Insightful)

kentmartin (244833) | about 10 years ago | (#10596379)

Let me get this straight. Assume I am a bad guy. If I want to find an American overseas - particularly in a country where carrying a passport is mandatory, how am I going to go about it?

To take it one step further, if I am wifi'd into a database somehow, I can even do a few smarts and identify a "better" target (wealthier, public figure etc).

I carry an Australian passport and it will not shock me when "the Clever Country" bends over and does what the Americans do - yet again!

Re:Or, on the other hand for target selection (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596387)

Australia - The Clever Country???? I've heard it all now.

Re:Or, on the other hand for target selection (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596398)

ROFL @ Australia = "the Clever Country"

Re:Or, on the other hand for target selection (5, Funny)

polysylabic psudonym (820466) | about 10 years ago | (#10596400)

Come on! Like you need RFID to spot the American tourist!

Re:Or, on the other hand for target selection (1)

kentmartin (244833) | about 10 years ago | (#10596416)

I did laugh at that, in Bangkok at the moment, and your point is very well made here!

BTW The Clever Country [] is hardly a phrase of my creation.

Re:Law Enforcement (4, Informative)

polysylabic psudonym (820466) | about 10 years ago | (#10596383)

Unfortunately RFID tags don't have much range. You'd have to be practically on top of your stuff to find it - that or have the whole town you're in set up to track RFID tags as they move through doorways etc. I think I'd rather lose my passport, cash and credit cards than have that, though.

Re:Law Enforcement (1)

nwmakel (816545) | about 10 years ago | (#10596395)

If the range is not that far, why the concern about being tracked?

Re:Law Enforcement (3, Interesting)

big ben bullet (771673) | about 10 years ago | (#10596385)

Maybe... but it sounds to me that the thing is not going to be that difficult to hack.

No encryption, only a digital signature...

He even admits it at the end of the article.

Now let's see what those tinfoil hats think about this. This could becoma a very interesting discussion :)

Anyway, once again I'm so glad I'm not American.

Re:Law Enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596488)

The funny thing is : no encryption but a digital signature

For some reason some phoo-ha's think that a digital signature does not contain (the equivalent of) encryption, and is therefore "unbreakable" ?

And than again : why break some encryption, when you can just copy it: just pass, within a reasonable distance, someone and you have his or her "identity" ...

Re:Law Enforcement (2, Insightful)

macaulay805 (823467) | about 10 years ago | (#10596399)

Sure, today its passports. Tomorrow its ID Cards/Drivers License, then the day after that its implants.

One step at a time to take away anonymity and freedom. Kind of like the PATRIOT act. "In times of need, we will mandate the tracking process of people using RFID enabled cards."

There is also the fact, that people outside the US can spoof the RFID system and, *BAM*, lets make counterfeit stuff, or better yet, lets track where they are going and sell their information to marketers.

If we want to be left alone, we can not broadcast our information to the very public we want to keep away from.

Or maybe I should wake up before I start posting to ./ about these issues. My 2 cents.

I doubt it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596402)

As far as I know, such an RFID does not send out any signals, and cannot be located from a larger distance...

Re:Law Enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596429)

Yes, once kidnappers/muggers/baggage handlers get their hands on a transponder, they will be able to safely follow, track, and target their 'marks'.

This is a good idea, other nationalities will be so much safer - so good of the US to make its citizens stand out like a tall nail when travelling abroad.

Re:Law Enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596498)

so good of the US to make its citizens stand out like a tall nail when travelling abroad.

US citizens are good at doing this already, without the RFID.

Bruce Schneier (5, Informative)

Ann Elk (668880) | about 10 years ago | (#10596354)

Bruce Schneier has made some interesting observations [] on the RFID passport plans. Somehow, I do not see how this could possibly make us "safer".

Re:Bruce Schneier (1)

nucal (561664) | about 10 years ago | (#10596415)

The idea of broadcasting my ID continuously is distrubing, but it seems reasonable that passports could be issued with a sleeve that would block tranmission of the RFID signal.

Re: Faraday envelope for RFID (1)

qubezz (520511) | about 10 years ago | (#10596511)

Keep it under your tinfoil hat. That'd do it.

It helps save all the troubles involved in (1, Funny)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | about 10 years ago | (#10596516)

Kidnapping Americans. Sometimes you grab a European and they get all whiney about it. Now you only have to scan for an RFID tag and hey presto you can pick yourself up an American with a lot less hassle.

As a precedent to? (4, Funny)

joelethan (782993) | about 10 years ago | (#10596358)

October 2005: The State Department announced it was going to add RFID chips to all new Americans.

And you thought it was just a Vitamin K shot.


ASCII artist's depitction: (0, Troll)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 10 years ago | (#10596433)

(side view of rotating fan, object inbound)




Re:As a precedent to? (2, Funny)

BottleCup (691335) | about 10 years ago | (#10596444)

All your babies are belong to us.

ID... (1, Interesting)

Amiga Lover (708890) | about 10 years ago | (#10596359)

Yeah. this really sucks. Imagine that, putting an RFID chip, a means of uniquely identifying a person, in a passport, a device that is meant to uniquely identify a person.


Re:ID... (5, Insightful)

Tjebbe (36955) | about 10 years ago | (#10596393)

The difference is that with current passports, you have to show it, which has to be asked, and which you can refuse, so you have the ability to choose to accept the consequences of not showing your passport. With rfid tags it can be done without you even knowing it, and thus without you agreeing to.

Re:ID... (1)

bentcd (690786) | about 10 years ago | (#10596497)

I predict a growing market for metal-lined wallets :-)

Re:ID... (5, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | about 10 years ago | (#10596401)

But you get to choose who to show your passport to. Anyone can read RFID information, as long as they can get reasonably close to you.

Re:ID... (1)

Jarnis (266190) | about 10 years ago | (#10596408)

...from range.

You want to walk around broadcasting data who you are to anyone with a hidden RFID reader?

Renewals? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596362)

I don't know the requirements to renew passports, but if the same book is used constantly, that would mean that all the tinfoil hatters would need to get their passports before January... oh wait, that would mean they would have to be subject to the government... nevermind, they're buried out in Montana in a cave with an internet connection, they'll never have to worry about this.

Tracking... (5, Interesting)

spagetti_code (773137) | about 10 years ago | (#10596363)

I'm a frequent US visitor who has been fingerprinted and photographed. It didn't feel good, but its not like we have a choice.

This new step is another step towards control - remember, that is what this is all about. Bad guys get around the system - the 9/11 guys were all bona-fide visitors. Good guys, which is everyone else, gets tracked and watched.

I'm glad I'm outside the country 8+ months of the year.

Re:Tracking... (2, Informative)

seringen (670743) | about 10 years ago | (#10596414)

Hate to break it to you, but America is still catching up to Europe when it comes to being spied upon regularily. Just because one can travel freely among European countries doesn't mean you aren't being tracked coming in and out as a non-member. Not to mention the omnipresent video security and tapping abilities of Europe. Just because the US went from pretty much nothing to something doesn't mean the europeans have anything to goad over us.

Re:Tracking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596454)

Hate to brake it to you, but the US went from more tracking than the EU (I don't even show my passport travelling between many countries here) to taking my fucking fingerprint when entering the country. Also, Europe is not a country...

Re:Tracking... (4, Informative)

Simon Lyngshede (623138) | about 10 years ago | (#10596506)

Omnipresent video security? In shops? Or have you been to England? Agreed, the UK have taken video security to the extreme. There are however still nations where the individuals still has rights. Im not always to happy about being Danish, but at least we (still) have some privacy. Tapping phones, forget it, the police really have to have a good case to be allowed to tap you phone. Video cameras? There must be a clear sign saying that you're being taped. Cameras may not be pointed at public spaces.

When talking about protecting the individuals privacy, the US has a long way to go, and you're moving in the wrong direction, but so Europe. Sure I have a CPR number (Central Person Register) which identify me, but who cares, it doesn't mean that the government can track my every move.

I personally think that there is a greater chance of the US government and not the Danish government i spying on me.

Re:Tracking... (5, Interesting)

c0p0n (770852) | about 10 years ago | (#10596507)

Just because the US went from pretty much nothing to something doesn't mean the europeans have anything to goad over us.

Are you saying that the parent post of yours is doing some xenophobe afirmations?

The point is that if you go to US and you're not from the US (I do not say american... cubans are americans too) you have a serious risk of being humiliated by US frontier guards, being the risk proportional to:
  1. Size of your moustach
  2. Darkness of your skin
My brother went to US last year. He has no moustach, but a aggressively black hair and he has a dark skin. He was locked by the airport guards for 3 hours. They even assured that he was on a black list (!!!) only to scare him to see his reaction.

Well, if that is what you call freedom ... FIGHT AGAINST THAT, BY GOD'S SAKE!!!. There will not be another opportunity.

Re:Tracking... (0)

gowen (141411) | about 10 years ago | (#10596510)

the omnipresent video security
Except, as no Americans seem to realise, unless their investigating a crime, the vast, vast majority of that tape goes unwatched. And even if it were (which it isn't) there's no centralised system for tracking and identifying you across the myriad CCTV operators. You're just a body floating across the frame. No one gives a damn who you are, you're just not important. The purpose is evidentiary, for prosecuting criminals.

As intelligence/information gathering infrastructures go, you might as well get paranoid about strolling across the shot of various soccer moms as they're capturing the darling little child on the family camcorder.

Re:Tracking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596519)

I wonder how u guys would react to being fingerprinted and photographed when you head to the Caribbean on holiday.

If the video security was only in place to track non-europeans then I would understand the comparison

Course it doesn't really matter - the borders are impossible to secure anyway - as long as some travelers feel good about what the administration is doing about the bad guys.

Can someone say what this programme has actually achieved?

Re:Tracking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596484)

I have decided not to travel to the US until they calm the fuck down on this stuff. It is degrading, humiliating and plain infuriating thing to have your loved ones and self fingerprinted and photographed like criminals when going on holiday.

great... (1)

Vash_066 (816757) | about 10 years ago | (#10596364)

just what I beable to pin point where the robbers have been taking my credit cards...

øllebrød (1, Funny)

Hafnia (590482) | about 10 years ago | (#10596365)

As echelon evolves and RFID's go everywhere, soon You'll have to walk around naked if You want privacy.

Nudity (5, Funny)

JNighthawk (769575) | about 10 years ago | (#10596386)

It's funny. Nudist colonies say they have nothing to hide, but now they'll be the only place *to* hide.

Re:øllebrød (0)

Vash_066 (816757) | about 10 years ago | (#10596407)

I do that now....

Going naked won't do it... (3, Interesting)

irishkev (457679) | about 10 years ago | (#10596495) s/2002/10/021015073446.htm

Gait Recognition Technology May Aid Homeland Defense
The characteristics of your walk may not be as distinctive as the swaggering of John Wayne or the sashay of Joan Collins, but your stride may still be unique enough to identify you at a distance -- alone or among a group of people.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and elsewhere are developing technologies to recognize a person's walk, or gait. Results indicate these new identification methods hold promise as tools in the war on terrorism and in medical diagnosis.

Gait recognition technology is a biometric method - that is, a unique biological or behavioral identification characteristic, such as a fingerprint or a face. Though still in its infancy, the technology is growing in significance because of federal studies, such as the Georgia Tech projects, funded by the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

At Georgia Tech, one study is addressing issues of gait recognition by computer vision, and the other is exploring a novel approach -- gait recognition with a radar system similar to those used by police officers to catch speeders.

The ultimate goal is detect, classify and identify humans at distances up to 500 feet away under day or night, all-weather conditions. Such capabilities will enhance the protection of U.S. forces and facilities from terrorist attacks, according to DARPA officials.

"We need technology to find the bad guys at a distance around federal buildings," says Jon Geisheimer, a research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). "That is the original application. And after Sept. 11, we began to see the usefulness of these technologies in airports."

Because gait recognition technology is so new, researchers are assessing the uniqueness of gait and methods by which it can be evaluated.

"We know that we can get some information on gait, but that it is much less diagnostic than faces," says Aaron Bobick, an associate professor of computing and co-director of the computer vision project at Georgia Tech. " Currently, we can't recognize one in 100,000 people. At the moment, gait recognition is not capable of that, but it's getting better so it can act as a filter."

In its early development, gait recognition technology likely will serve as a screening tool in conjunction with other biometric methods.

With two years of experiments and analysis almost complete, researchers on both Georgia Tech projects are hopeful for continued funding to conduct further studies. They must address numerous technical issues and it will be at least five years before the technologies are commercialized, researchers say.

In the project using radar for gait recognition, results from experiments, data analysis and algorithm design are promising, says Geisheimer, who works under the direction of GTRI principal research scientist Gene Greneker, and collaborates with GTRI research engineer Bill Marshall and Georgia State University Professor of Biomechanics Ben Johnson.

Gait recognition by radar focuses on the gait cycle formed by the movements of a person's various body parts move over time.

"The magic goal we're shooting for is accuracy in the high 90 percent range," Geisheimer says. "We're not there yet, but our initial results are encouraging and promising."

Researchers correctly identified 80 to 95 percent of individual subjects, with variances in that range among the three experiment days.

The next step is to build a more powerful radar system and test it in the lab and then the field. In experiments last year, subjects started walking 50 feet away from the radar and then walked within 15 feet of it. But researchers are now building a radar system that can detect people from 500 or more feet.

In the study of gait recognition by computer vision, researchers distinguish their approach from others with a technique called an activity-specific static biometric. A static property - for example, a person's leg length -- is not a property of motion itself. It can be measured from a single image.

"The advantage of measuring a static property is that it is amenable to being done from multiple viewpoints," Bobick says. ".... Static measurements are view invariant, and that is a tremendous advantage because you can't control where someone goes."

Researchers are also developing statistical analysis tools for using a small, easily gathered database to predict how well a particular biometric, including gait recognition, will work on a larger population. These techniques will also help researchers determine what gait recognition properties to measure based on how well the technology can measure them.

"You can work on your ability to improve measurements," Bobick says. "But if you're not measuring something that is diagnostic, there is no amount of technology that will solve that problem with the biometric." Still in its infancy, computer vision-based gait recognition technology holds promise, particularly for verification or screening around the perimeters of government buildings or in an airport, if it is used in conjunction with other biometric technologies and information, Bobick predicts.

Meanwhile, researchers are applying the findings from their DARPA study to ongoing research in understanding human movement through video. Associate Professor Irfan Essa envisions applications in medical diagnosis. "Gait analysis has been important in the health field for a long time," Essa says. "Basic changes in someone's walking pattern can be an early indicator of the onset of Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH)."

Further in the future are applications in diagnosing depression and lie detection.

RFID Worries... (1)

nametaken (610866) | about 10 years ago | (#10596366)

I don't know this for sure, but wouldn't the RFID just bust out a number as an anti-counterfeit device? I mean, it's not like you're going to be broadcasting your personal information... right?? Are we worried about people replicating the rfid in fake passports? Because if we are, I just see it the same way I see any of the replicable content of the US passport.

Re:RFID Worries... (4, Informative)

frdmfghtr (603968) | about 10 years ago | (#10596469)

From the article:

New U.S. passports will soon be read remotely at borders around the world, thanks to embedded chips that will broadcast on command an individual's name, address and digital photo to a computerized reader.

Any questions?

Re:RFID Worries... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 10 years ago | (#10596518)

Ive never understood the immediate upcry about stuff like this, sure its going to broadcast data, but who says that data is in the clear? Couldnt the data be encrypted at the time the tag is written to? Has anyone on slashdot considered that?

Re:RFID Worries... (1)

Zork the Almighty (599344) | about 10 years ago | (#10596471)

I mean, it's not like you're going to be broadcasting your personal information... right??

Hahaha, yeah. Nobody would ever do something that stupid.

Re:RFID Worries... (1)

lgftsa (617184) | about 10 years ago | (#10596491)

And when the duty free shop/hotel/etc counter has an RFID reader tied to the credit card machine, your "anonymous" unique number(or hash!) has just been tied to identifying information. It won't take long to cross-reference information, and then the tags in your toothbrush, razor, shoes(readers in the floor solves the range problem), tyres, etc can be used to track you anywhere you go.

Hell, most car keys have transponders in them. You carry them around all the time, and it's you carrying your keyring 99.999% of the time. How long will it take to build a database when people pay for fuel with credit cards? Door frames and counters make great reader locations.

Unique numbers are only anonymous if they can never be associated with any other information.

In other news... (-1, Redundant)

Repiv (821449) | about 10 years ago | (#10596367)

...Big brother is watching.

Failure (4, Interesting)

ttys00 (235472) | about 10 years ago | (#10596368)

What happens when these chips fail? Do you get locked up for tampering with a Federal document, or some crap like that?

Re:Failure (4, Funny)

Hadlock (143607) | about 10 years ago | (#10596382)

Exactly! I mean, I've been known to toss my passport in the microwave with my easy mac from time to time - if that RFID tag gets toasted, it's not my fault!

Re:Failure (3, Interesting)

selderrr (523988) | about 10 years ago | (#10596428)

That is not the core problem. The issue is that IF the gov claims these tags to be secure (which they will), and your tag gets copied by someone (which, if ever feasible by criminals, can be done wirelessly, so you can't protect yourself unless you start wrapping foil around your wallet. But that would beat the purpose of the RF in RFID) you have very little means left to protect yourself.

And even worse : who will be blamed if your tag is stolen ? You ? The gov ? Certainly not the crooks as they usually get away with everything. My guess is that the new passport will carry a EULA that shifts all responsabilities to the carrier.

Simple solution (5, Informative)

polysylabic psudonym (820466) | about 10 years ago | (#10596369)

Turn your bag into a faraday cage [] , keep your passport in your bag.

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596438)

Why not just wrap the passport in foil?
And isn't foil-lined bags illegal in some countries? Thieves use them to sneak tagged goods out of stores.

Re:Simple solution (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596442)

In my country, such faraday-cage bags have been out-lawed in several cities. As they (might) block your personal information from traveling outside of that bag, they allso block the signals of anti-theft RFID components going the same way.

The reasoning is that if you (want to) block those signals, you're probably out attempting to steal something ...

Re:Simple solution (4, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 10 years ago | (#10596443)

Or just carry your passport in your tinfoil hat.

Re:Simple solution (1)

discontinuity (792010) | about 10 years ago | (#10596499)

Best quote from article:

"Even if they wanted to store this info in a chip, why have a chip that can be read remotely?" asked Barry Steinhardt, who directs the American Civil Liberty Union's Technology and Liberty program. "Why not require the passport be brought in contact with a reader so that the passport holder would know it had been captured? Americans in the know will be wrapping their passports in aluminum foil."

Little step for the state, medium step for slavery (2, Informative)

faragon (789704) | about 10 years ago | (#10596380)

I'm a bit afraid about this, as soon as that mean that everybody bringing passport will be "traceable"... but, why?

The target of a proposed solution usually it is driven by a defined utility: to speed up a procedure or whatever. But in this case, do will really speed up or improve something? What about passport authentication? For sure can not be 100% automated, as soon as RF ID chips can be, at least, cloned (from the sophisticated data retrieval via millitary X-Ray uC inspection or via amateur hacking, or whatever).

Summary: a cop/inspector will be still needed to validate your passport, then, there will no be "bottleneck solving" or whatever other problem was intended to be solved.

This too much control may irritate my civil rights chip... soon here at Europe. Regards.

Schneier's Take (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596388)

Bruce Schneier's latest CryptoGram newsletter [] has an intelligent take [] on the idiocy of this idea.
RFID chips can be read by any reader, not just the ones at passport control. The upshot of this is that anyone carrying around an RFID passport is broadcasting his identity.

Think about what that means for a minute. It means that a passport holder is continuously broadcasting his name, nationality, age, address, and whatever else is on the RFID chip. It means that anyone with a reader can learn that information, without the passport holder's knowledge or consent. It means that pickpockets, kidnappers, and terrorists can easily -- and surreptitiously -- pick Americans out of a crowd.
(Personally, I find the garish clothes, arrogant demeanour and lack of any interest in speaking local languages enables us to do this pretty easily anyway).

Re:Schneier's Take (1)

aolsheepdog (239764) | about 10 years ago | (#10596482)

Actually he's being a little alarmist when he says - It means that a passport holder is continuously broadcasting his name, nationality, age, address, and whatever else is on the RFID chip.

RFID chips don't actually broadcast unless they are hit with radio energy at the correct frequency.

The real reason behind these new passports is probably to get people through immigration controls as rapidly as possible. Even a savings of a few seconds, will make the lines move more rapidly. By not having contact readers ie smartcard type, there won't be parts to wear out and probably less downtime for equiptment.

Disclosure: Yep, I'm a DSS agent involved with the investigation of passport and visa fraud. []

security? (1)

a302b (585285) | about 10 years ago | (#10596390)

Basically, the real question is what is the purpose of a passport. If it is to track every individual, then this new measure is good. If it is merely a pass to travel, then these new measures definity step on civil liberties. I think the purpose behind things often gets confused, especially when such emotive issues such as safety are involved.

One for the locals (2, Insightful)

malsdavis (542216) | about 10 years ago | (#10596391)

Local tourist sales people will love it. Imagine how good it would be for them if they could get hold a machine that could locate nearby Americna tourists alowing them to approach them first before the hundreds of other "you want cheap watch?" sellers.

Re:One for the locals (2, Insightful)

Zork the Almighty (599344) | about 10 years ago | (#10596479)

Or think of it this way. Now the extremists will know exactly who to kidnap, or where best to strike with their suicide bombs! Feel the security!

Bring It On. (0, Troll)

Jaruzel (804522) | about 10 years ago | (#10596394)

I for one embrace all this extra identification.

I have nothing to hide, and long for a world where I can 'buy' anything I like without needing money, and and travel wherever I like without needing ID.

Let technology track me automagically, it will make my life easier on so many levels.

And for all you paranoid privacy nuts: There are are what, 6-and-bit billion people on this planet, what makes you think that the governments are interested in you ? Somehow I think they have bigger fish to fry.

Re:Bring It On. (1)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | about 10 years ago | (#10596431)

Sounds like you're just a consumer anyway.

If you're not making any difference in the world, positive or negative, do try to shut up.

It's people like you that let shit like this slide through.

It's not about having something to hide. It's a stupid idea.

Read this article [] .

Re:Bring It On. (1)

Jaruzel (804522) | about 10 years ago | (#10596472)

I'm allowed my opinion, and because it differs from yours doesn't make it bad or wrong.

I'm fed up with having to produce many bits of paper just to prove who I am, I see tech as a method make my life easier. And anything that does that is initially A Good Thing.

I'm sure that if this did become law, that free enterprise will produce a RFID blocker 'jacket' for your passport, so the paranoid (such as yourself) can feel suitably protected.

So you see, in the long run, you have nothing to be scared of my friend.

What makes you think you have privacy? (3, Insightful)

mrjb (547783) | about 10 years ago | (#10596397)

When you show your passport at the airport or as means of identification at a bank, for instance, the same privacy issues arise, RFID or not.

Sure, RFID can be read from a distance, but many of us seem sooooo worried about RFID and yet happily keep carrying a mobile phone, willingly pay by card or withdraw money from an ATM, and get in view of security cameras. No tinfoil hat is going to protect against that.

If there are privacy issues, it is because someone decides to abuse the technology, RFID or not.

If you want privacy, pay cash only, stay home, don't use phones, and don't do anything that requires identifying yourself.

The key is CHOICE: (1)

warrax_666 (144623) | about 10 years ago | (#10596478)

You can CHOOSE to pay by cash, you can CHOOSE to turn off your cell phone. You CANNOT choose who scans for RFID tags and you CANNOT choose not to have a passport (unless, of course, you don't plan on doing any overseas travelling).

Has anyone realised... (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | about 10 years ago | (#10596404)

That lost passports will become much harder to not find? Handheld RFID wand, wave it over every bag if someone can't find their passport. Problem solved.

Anyway, I think this is a great idea and personally would have every piece of official stuff I have with an RFID chip (or even better, put it all on one card with an RFID chip). The only problem here is that stuff could be skimmed, so the chip would have to contain a lot of security features.

Any word on what information this would actually store?

hmm... (1)

tuxette (731067) | about 10 years ago | (#10596410)

I wonder when they're going to start selling tin foil money belts for world travellers.

No enyryption of the data (5, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 10 years ago | (#10596418)

From the article:
Security experts said the U.S. government decided not to encrypt the data because of the risks involved in sharing the method of decryption with other countries.

And those very same security "experts" obviously don't know that there are methods for secure encryption known throughout the world even now? You don't need to be an expert to know that!

And no, I can't see any other explanation. It cannot be the possibility of unallowed reading of the data: That's even easier if the data isn't encrypted at all. And it cannot be the possibility of making forged passports: Having data not encrypted makes this not any harder than having it encrypted with a known encryption.

Even in the worst case scenario, when the decryption key was made public by some other state, the situation couldn't get worse than without any encryption at all. Of course, the USA could just decide not to give the key (or any specification at all) to countries they don't trust. Those countries would then just have to do what they do now: Rely on the non-RFID portion of the passport (which is currently all that is in a passport).

So there is really no excuse to store unencrypted data on the RFID chip.

damn (1)

powlow (197142) | about 10 years ago | (#10596419) it just me or are we paving the way for bigtime privacy invasion...RFID in the forehead please...

RFID co-channel interference? (3, Interesting)

cardpuncher (713057) | about 10 years ago | (#10596435)

When your clothes have RFID chips and your passport and driving license and you're in an environment where everything else has been chipped, are the scanners going to be able to pick up anything but noise?

Re:RFID co-channel interference? (4, Informative)

bentcd (690786) | about 10 years ago | (#10596521)

Yes. They have protocols specifically to allow for this.
It might be more of a problem if there are RFID _readers_ all over the place. They might interfere with eachother's attempt at scanning for RFID chips. I have no idea whether the protocols allow for this.

War on Terrorism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596437)

This must be so that targets^H^H^H^H^H^H^HAmericans can be identified in a crouded street/bus/station/building.

I jest, but this is really a stupid idea. American citizens are warned regularly to be inconspicuous when overseas.

Re:War on Terrorism (2, Funny)

tuxette (731067) | about 10 years ago | (#10596452)

American citizens are warned regularly to be inconspicuous when overseas.

Being warned is one thing. But until they ban the sale of bright white sneakers, baseball caps, and fanny packs, one can pick out an American tourist any day.

Biometrics imposed on the world (3, Interesting)

doodlelogic (773522) | about 10 years ago | (#10596445)

As US passport authorities are indirectly forcing the rest of the world's governments to include biometrics in their passports (otherwise they will be denied the Visa Waiver Program).

Seems only fair that similar invasions of privacy should be imposed on Americans too. What's good for the goose...

RFID activated Mines (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596446)

I wonder how long it is before terrorists target US Diplomats with explosives triggered by proximity to one of these RFID tags!

Just under the wire (1)

ReidMaynard (161608) | about 10 years ago | (#10596453)

I just got my US Passport renewed last month.

Not a problem... (3, Funny)

ForestGrump (644805) | about 10 years ago | (#10596458)

I'll just microwave my passport like I do with my cash. []


Re:Not a problem... (1, Funny)

xSauronx (608805) | about 10 years ago | (#10596515)

in regards to the parents sig:

keep microwaving your money, and youll always be looking for a wife.

Re:Not a problem... (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | about 10 years ago | (#10596517)

true, it takes money to get ads in the paper.

This is bad. (1)

MrBlender (708049) | about 10 years ago | (#10596461)

This is bad. What if terrorists start making mines that just wait for an an American passport to walk by.

This will make getting a US passport much easier (1)

Andy_R (114137) | about 10 years ago | (#10596464)

For terrorists. All they need to do is ping the right frequency in any tourist town.

Special offer for Iraqi Headhunters.... (1)

hughk (248126) | about 10 years ago | (#10596470)

Long-distance reader for identifying American targets....

I know that these chips are supposed to have a range of centimetres, but always? There have been plenty of privacy concerns about the remote interrogation of RFID chips used for profuct identification. Heck, you could probably even make a 'smart' boobytrap, only arms if a US passport is nearby.

If you want a forged current generation passport to convince a police officer in Nairobi, then it isn't so hard. If you want a forged passport to convice an Immigration Officer at JFK or Heathrow, then it had better be pretty genuine.

The issue of access to passport blanks (this has happened) or the ability to get a passport in a false identity through normal channels is more of an issue. Not RFID.

Govt makes own citizens walking targets! (3, Interesting)

a24061 (703202) | about 10 years ago | (#10596473)

As I said last time this was mentioned, this will let terrorists to create a bomb triggered by the presence (within the RFID's readable range) of someone of a specific nationality.

So the US government is making it easier for people to target its own citizens. Nice.

I, for one... (1, Funny)

bwd234 (806660) | about 10 years ago | (#10596475)

welcome our new RFID overlords.

Americans tracked down by a black van? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596487)

Well, just one step closer to installing the RFID chips directly into American Subjects (I don't think they can be called citizens anymore.)

So for the tin foil hat crowd, would wrapping the passport in Aluminum Foil stop from being detected, or does it take more than that to defeat RFID chips?

The Terrorist Bomber's Dream! (5, Interesting)

newt (3978) | about 10 years ago | (#10596490)

RFID chips can be read from up to 50 feet away. Sure, most readers only work from a few inches, but there is off-the-shelf equipment available for a moderate number of dollars with a much, much greater range.

So, lets assume that the RFID chips in US Passports will be readable from "a long way away". Doesn't matter if it's 10 feet, 20 feet or 50 feet. Lets just say it's more than a few inches.

What does this mean? It means that a bomber with a moderate budget could build a detonator for an explosive device which goes off when it can detect the presence of an RFID chip.

It doesn't need to actually read the chip (lets assume the passport data is encrypted), it just needs to know it's there.

Furthermore, it could count the number of unique RFIDs which are currently in range, and only detonate the explosive when enough of them are seen at the same time.

It could be planted days, weeks or months in advance, and it'd sit there until its batteries ran down waiting for the right moment to go off.

The result is a bomb which only goes off when a sufficiently large density of American citizens is present.

- mark

A signature would only provide limited security. (2, Interesting)

Serious Simon (701084) | about 10 years ago | (#10596492)

If no encryption is embedded in the RFID tags, and the signature is done as a secret calculation on the data, you could copy all the data including the signature.

Of course it will be difficult to change the data and create a fake passport, but you could copy the tag from someone else's passport (without their knowledge) and use it in identity theft.

A complication would be that blank RFID tags cannot be obtained with the same serial number (current RFID tags mostly have unique serial numbers that are pre-programmed by the chip manufacturer). I would expect that the serial number is included in the signature calculation.

However, you could still build your own functionally equivalent "RFID tag chip" using off the shelf logic components and program any serial number you like. It would not be as compact as a real RFID tag, but it could be used in situations where the tag would be read without being visible.

spoof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#10596493)

If needed RFID passports can be read from seevral meters away we need to fry teh chisp on the actual passport and carry RFID chips spoofing false information.
Thsi will not stop the ordinary passport control at the border or airport but will not help the snooping abuser and even give them false info.

There's money in this... (4, Insightful)

RotHorseKid (239899) | about 10 years ago | (#10596496)

Does anyone else smell a business opportunity for Radio-shielded passport sleeves?

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