in Your Passport and Drivers License
more progress on the plan to microchip all citizens. The key word to watch
for is "Smart Cards." These cards are being sold as the wave of the
future, devices that will make our life easier and smarter. Yet they also
will allow anyone with the technology to monitor where we are at any moment,
and to obtain personal information stored in these cards. Used for the
right purposes, these could be great assets, but they could also be very
effectively used to quash any dissent towards the government. I very much
support ever greater transparency in our personal lives, but I'm not sure I
trust government in its current state to use this new technology without
infringing on our freedoms and liberties. The quotes immediately
following are from the ACLU and Washington Times, with
a full story by the Christian Science Monitor. Please help to
spread the word by forwarding this message. Take care and have a good day.
Burks for WantToKnow.info
ACLU Urges Virginia Legislators Not To Put Radio Computer Chip in
American Civil Liberties Union today urged Virginia not to become the first
state in the nation to place radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in
its driver's licenses.
the direction of President Bush the National Institute for Standards and
Technology is working on a standard for a federal employee identification
card that would also include the radio chips.
Note: Consider signing
the ACLU's petition to protect our liberties at http://www.aclu.org/refusetosurrender
Plan for smart chips in licenses opposed
lawmakers, hoping to stem identity fraud, are considering whether computer
chips that can store personal information should be embedded in the state's
driver's licenses — a measure civil libertarians say threatens rights to
general, we have endorsed the concept," Sheriff Brown said. "No
question smart cards are the future."
ID readers could be used by government agents to sweep up the identities of
everyone at a political meeting, protest march, or Islamic prayer
Passports go electronic with new microchip
Next year, new US passports will have a chip
slipped under the cover, containing biometric and personal data. But privacy
advocates worry about surveillance.
| Staff writer of The
Christian Science Monitor
The US passport is about to go electronic, with a
tiny microchip embedded in its cover. Along with digitized pictures,
holograms, security ink, and "ghost" photos - all security features
added since 2002 - the chip is the latest outpost in the battle to outwit
tamperers. But it's also one that worries privacy advocates.
RFID (radio frequency identification) chip in each passport will contain the
same personal data as now appear on the inside pages - name, date of birth,
place of birth, issuing office - and a digitized version of the photo. But
the 64K chip will be read remotely. And there's the rub.
scenario, privacy advocates say, could be as simple as you standing in line
with your passport as someone walks by innocuously carrying a briefcase.
Inside that case, a microchip reader could be skimming data from your
passport to be used for identity theft. Or maybe authorities or terrorists
want to see who's gathered in a crowd and surreptitiously survey your ID and
track you. Suddenly, "The Matrix" looks less futuristic.
State Department maintains that such scenarios are outright fiction.
person can't be tracked," says Kelly Shannon, spokeswoman for the Bureau
of Consular Affairs at the State Department. "It's not as if the
information is going to broadcast and anyone with a receiver can be picking
up that signal. There isn't a signal."
passport, issued to officials and diplomats in early 2005 and to the public
by the end of the year, is accessed using a reader that "pings" the
microchip in order to release the data, much like proximity cards used for
workplace ID badges. What prevents surveillance is that "the passport
can only be read at a distance of 10 centimeters or less," explains
Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, an industry
association that represents the four companies that produced prototype chips
for the State Department.
of privacy advocates have "no validity," he says. "The purpose
of the passport is to create a more secure travel document. The introduction
of contactless chip technology has accomplished that."
response of technology experts and privacy advocates is simply:
perfectly reasonable that the government wants a machine-readable
photograph," says Bruce Schneier, a security guru and author of
"Beyond Fear." "I just worry that they are building a
technology that the bad guys can surreptitiously access."
idea that the chips cannot be read beyond 10 centimeters (four inches)
doesn't fly with him. "There is no impossible," Mr. Schneier says.
"So they [the manufacturers] guarantee that there will be no
technological advances in the next 10 years that will change that? It's
fact, data skimming is already common in other arenas, says Richard Doherty,
research director for the Envisioneering Group, a technology-assessment
company out of Seaford, N.Y. "Bluejacking," where someone with the
right equipment can hijack your phone, grab your directory, history of calls,
and electronic serial number just by walking past you while you're on the
phone, and "war-driving," where an individual drives down the
street with a computer that maps all the networks that are free along with
their IDs - these are already significant security issues, he says.
whole world of wireless is one that, yes, it has tremendous convenience, but
it's increasingly threatened by a cloud of easy-to-exploit criminal
means," Mr. Doherty says.
why not choose a contact chip, where there would be no possibility of
skimming, asks Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and
Liberty Project. "You don't have to have a 'contactless' integrated circuit,"
he says. "There was another way to go, which was to put an electronic
strip in the passport that would require contact. It would make theft far
State Department says it's just following international standards set by the
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), under the umbrella of the
United Nations. In May 2003, the ICAO specified the RFID and facial biometric
or digitized head shot now being adopted by other countries at the behest of
the United States. All countries that are part of the US visa-waiver program
must use the new passports by Oct. 26, 2005.
Steinhardt calls the State Department's approach "policy
laundering," and says the US pushed through the standards against the
reservations of the Europeans. "Bush says at the G8 meeting, 'We have to
adhere to the global standard,' as though we had nothing to do with it. It
was masterful from a political perspective," he says in exasperation.
even the ICAO, in the small print of a document published last May titled,
"Use of Contactless ICs in Machine Readable Travel Documents,"
acknowledges the new RFID chips won't be foolproof: "... it is unlikely
that unauthorized reading will occur. However, this cannot be completely
Although the data on the chip will not be
encrypted, for the sake of easing "interoperability" across
international borders, Ms. Shannon says, the government does plan to
incorporate a security feature that will largely prevent skimming. Embedded
fibers in the front and back covers will shield the passport from electronic
probing, at least while it is closed. Other security features in the new
passports include a digital or electronic seal that will ensure the document
is authentic and smart-card technology that renders the chip inoperable if it
is tampered with using energy waves or radio waves.
See our archive of revealing news articles at http://www.WantToKnow.info/medianewsarticles
Your tax-deductible donations, however large or small, help greatly to support this important work.
To make a secure donation: http://www.wanttoknow.info/donationswtk
-- To subscribe to or unsubscribe from the WantToKnow.info list (one email every few days):
http://www.WantToKnow.info/subscribe. For the highly informative
archive of previous deep insider emails, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/medianewsarticles --