As I tentatively begin planning journeys outside the US for next year and beyond, it’s hard avoid seeing posts, tweets, and articles ranting about the evils of vaccine “passports”. Something about restricting your “freedom”.
Vaccine passports, which are being developed by the European Union, the state of New York, and others (public and private) are simply some kind of document, physical or digital, certifying that a person has recently been inoculated against highly contagious diseases.
In their attempts to create absolutely secure ID cards for us to carry, the US government may actually be opening people up to even more identity theft.
RFID (radio frequency identification) tags containing personal information are part of the new PASSCards, “mini passports” being issued for non-airline travel to places like Canada.
Some states are also embedding the chips in driver’s licenses, the goal being to allow officials to quickly scan the digital information and to make it difficult for the bad guys to forge the document.
However, it turns out they are not the only ones who can read it.
A security researcher in San Francisco recently demonstrated that he could cruise around town and pick up the signals from PASSCards containing RFID tags using a home-made system costing $250.
His work verifies a study from the University of Washington which showed that “RFID tags in PASScards and EDLs [enhanced driver’s license] were vulnerable to remote capture using widely available tools”.
This is technology that is becoming relatively common for tagging goods as they travel from factory to store.
It’s now growing in being used to tag and track human beings, obviously with not enough concern for privacy.