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"Little" Brother is here.


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The following from an AP National Writer....

Passports issued after June 1 were required to have a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip installed. The chip, which can be activated by radio waves, can be coupled with a biometric file on an individual providing personal information that possibly could be hacked remotely.

Border States appear to be implementing embedding the RFID chip in the State's Driver's licenses. The technology appears to be gaining popularity within the federal government. It is already being used outside the US.

The individual can also be "tracked" using steadily improving technology, being developed in this specific field....... Quite an Orwellian scenario?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090711/ap_on_...ping_america_iv

"Embedding identity documents — passports, drivers licenses, and the like — with RFID chips is a no-brainer to government officials. Increasingly, they are promoting it as a 21st century application of technology that will help speed border crossings, safeguard credentials against counterfeiters, and keep terrorists from sneaking into the country.

But Paget's February experiment demonstrated something privacy advocates had feared for years: That RFID, coupled with other technologies, could make people trackable without their knowledge or consent.

He filmed his drive-by heist, and soon his video went viral on the Web, intensifying a debate over a push by government, federal and state, to put tracking technologies in identity documents and over their potential to erode privacy.

Putting a traceable RFID in every pocket has the potential to make everybody a blip on someone's radar screen, critics say, and to redefine Orwellian government snooping for the digital age."

"But with advances in tracking technologies coming at an ever-faster rate, critics say, it won't be long before governments could be able to identify and track anyone in real time, 24-7, from a cafe in Paris to the shores of California.

The key to getting such a system to work, these opponents say, is making sure everyone carries an RFID tag linked to a biometric data file."

"Meanwhile, Homeland Security has been promoting broad use of RFID even though its own advisory committee on data integrity and privacy warned that radio-tagged IDs have the potential to allow "widespread surveillance of individuals" without their knowledge or consent.

In its 2006 draft report, the committee concluded that RFID "increases risks to personal privacy and security, with no commensurate benefit for performance or national security," and recommended that "RFID be disfavored for identifying and tracking human beings."

For now, chipped PASS cards and enhanced driver's licenses are optional and not yet widely deployed in the United States. To date, roughly 192,000 EDLs have been issued in Washington, Vermont, Michigan and New York.

But as more Americans carry them "you can bet that long-range tracking of people on a large scale will rise exponentially," says Paget, a self-described "ethical hacker" who works as an Internet security consultant.

Could RFID numbers eventually become de facto identifiers of Americans, like the Social Security number?"

"The chips could be skimmed from a yard away, he added — all a hacker would need to read e-passport numbers, say, in an elevator or on a subway.

Other red flags went up. In February 2006, an encrypted Dutch e-passport was hacked on national television, with researchers gaining access to the document's digital photograph, fingerprint and personal data. Then British e-passports were hacked using a $500 reader and software written in less than 48 hours.

The State Department countered by saying European e-passports weren't as safe as their American counterparts because they lacked the cryptographic key and the anti-skimming cover.

But recent studies have shown that more powerful readers can penetrate even the metal sheathing in the U.S. e-passport's cover.

John Brennan, a senior policy adviser at the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, concedes it may be possible for a reader to overpower the e-passport's protective shield from a distance.

However, he adds, "you could not do this in any large-scale, concerted fashion without putting a bunch of infrastructure in place to make it happen. The practical vulnerabilities may be far less than some of the theoretical scenarios that people have put out there."

That thinking is flawed, says Lee Tien, a senior attorney and surveillance expert with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which opposes RFID in identity documents.

It won't take a massive government project to build reader networks around the country, he says: They will grow organically, for commercial purposes, from convention centers to shopping malls, sports stadiums to college campuses. Federal agencies and law enforcement wouldn't have to control those networks; they already buy information about individuals from commercial data brokers."

"And remember," Tien adds, "technology always gets better ... " By TODD LEWAN, AP National Writer Todd Lewan, Ap National Writer

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