Passports and IO Ports

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Final rules and specs for the RFID-chipped passports I wrote about back in March were released this week.

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  1. It’s a free country.

    Should you choose to leave it, our Overlords will track our every movement, because we are goddamn serfs. But it’s a free country.

    So what’s going to happen when I take my RFID chip to Amsterdam and spend a week getting high as shit in a hundred different ways? Do I get a free strip search upon my return? (For those of you who have not been strip searched, lemme tell ya, THAT is a PARTY AND A HALF.)

    Sweet. Not.

  2. According to the filing, the passports will be equipped with “anti-skimming” technology to reduce the chance of the signal being intercepted between the passport and the electronic reader.

    “Reduce the chance” of someone picking up your signal? Isn’t it guaranteed that the people who will be trying to lift these signals will A) be bad people, some VERY bad and B) that they will copy the signal emitted by the chip and make their own RFIDs to put in their own fake passports using other people’s electronic signals?

    The chip itself will be embedded in the back cover of a newly designed passport, and the anti-skimming film will be in both the front and back covers, reducing the chance of interception when someone is standing in a passport line.

    There you go: an “anti-skimming” film stands between you and high-tech identity theft by all kinds of scumbags.

    According to the filing, the passport needs to be within inches of the reader in order to work.

    So when the Bad Guys come up with their OWN “readers” and bump up against us, it’ll be like high-tech pickpocketing with a high-tech identity theft bonus? Sweet.

    The department also rejected some calls for using a smart-card-type chip that must come into contact with the reader, as opposed to a radio frequency identification chip that can be read at a distance.

    Sweet. I’m sure they had good reasons.

    The chips will have enough memory so additional biometric information could be added in the future.

    Well, a retina scan to verify that someone hasn’t hijacked my RFID is a good start. Maybe I’ll even be allowed to give a DNA sample for the feds to store! God knows they would never make copies of DNA and use it to set someone up. They wouldn’t do a thing like that.

  3. And just wait for the near-weekly call for updating your passports to address the latest “flaw” or “loophole” or “vulnerability”. It’s going to be like updating your virus software.

    And there will be two options for paying for it – either a massive new spending program (yeah!) or passport holders will be paying out the anus for each new “upgrade”. I’ll vote for two, since I don’t plan on travelling internationally for a few years, but wow. I’d hate to be someone involved in international business. I guess you’ll just have to suck up even more to our imperial overlords…

  4. Is there a blog pool on how long it will take the hackers to come up with phony chips? I might want to place a bet….

  5. Im not exactly sure why this bothers me, but it does.

  6. Quasibill:

    I’m betting that most people who travel internationally for business work for companies that will reimburse the cost. That implies that we will all be paying the cost wether we travel or not as the companies pass the cost on to consumers.

  7. I suppose I’ll just get one of the last of the old non-chip kind, then chuckle as the RFID fiasco unfolds. By the time I’ve got to renew, the chip will have been scrapped.

  8. So when the Bad Guys come up with their OWN “readers” and bump up against us, it’ll be like high-tech pickpocketing with a high-tech identity theft bonus? Sweet.

    I foresee a market for radio-insulated wallets that will require you to at least open them up before a reader could get a signal.

  9. Looks like I’ll be putting my chipped passport in the microwave for about 5 seconds. Why the hell isn’t a magstrip or barcode good enough?

  10. NathanB,

    You obviously don’t understand how the contracting of technology works. The more complicated and prone to failure the technology is, the better everyone likes it. The technology itself is more expensive and the need for future solutions and upgrades ensures a revenue stream far into the future.

    The use of RFID is, of course, not necessary for airline security but for surveillance.

  11. “Looks like I’ll be putting my chipped passport in the microwave for about 5 seconds.”

    Doesn’t that mean you’ll be detained every time you try to use it?

  12. Resistance is futile, you must submit to the will of the collective.

  13. Phillip Conti,

    You are worried because it is a slippery slope from this to RIFD drivers’ licenses. Sure, the government can’t force you to carry an identity chip around with you for surveillance. But require states to implant one in the licenses they issue to drivers (or face loss of federal highway funds) — licenses that 99% of us just happen to carry on our persons whenever we leave our houses? You betcha! And will Americans go for it? You betcha! They’ll shut up and take it, because (1) they’re sheep, (2) it’s for their own good, and (3) we already have RIFD passports, so what are you complaining about?

    Or maybe that’s just why I’m worried.

    But what the hell. I’ve always thought it would be fun to actually go around wearing a tinfoil hat.

  14. What about making a Faraday Cage out of aluminum foil? Does that still work?

    Failing that, does wearing a tinfoil hat in my passport picture work?

  15. I work for a company involved with biometrics. I often wonder about how creepy people here find this area. For the most part, I don’t have many problems, but I can see where the technology could be abused.

    The fundamental aim is identify an individual with very high accuacry. Sounds scary, but how much different are the changes that are being proposed from the state of things now?
    Are you people just being paranoid?
    Are the fears legitimate?

    Above, poster Adam talks about going to Amsterdam and the potential for being harassed on the way back home. In this case, an RFID chip in a passport wouldn’t incriminate someone any more than a passport in the current version. An RFID chip in his body during the visit is a different story.

    In my opinion, the fears of someone somehow scanning your information and using them for mischief are undue. Sure, it could happen. But people could be peeking over you shoulder and writing down your PIN at an ATM too. Do you guys worry much about that?

    I guess what I want to figure out how reaslistic are the fears that people have versus the fears of something that is simply new and unfamiliar.

  16. But people could be peeking over you shoulder and writing down your PIN at an ATM too. Do you guys worry much about that?

    I’d worry more if my bank controlled the borders to my country and my PIN could be discovered by getting close enough to my ATM card.

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