Many times in this space I’ve ranted about various plans to use RFID (radio frequency identification) to tag human beings as well as inanimate objects.
That includes new passport documents from our State Department, which they promise are secure since our information can only be read at close range by the devices used by their agents.
Except that someone with a home-made reader and a little knowledge has already demonstrated it’s not true.
Now the state of Michigan has an agreement with the federal government to put them in driver’s licenses.
Fortunately, one Congress critter is calling foul on the deal.
The new licenses would contain an unencrypted RFID chip that would contain a new unique citizen ID number that could be wirelessly read through both wallets and walls at distances of 30 feet.
Michigan entering into a federal agreement to put unencrypted, long range RFID computer chips into our driver’s licenses presents a huge privacy risk with very little benefit. I don’t think we need RFID in our licenses period, but even if we did, there is absolutely no reason it couldn’t be short range and encrypted.
These days it doesn’t require a lot of data to steal a person’s identity.
We certainly don’t need the government making it easier to obtain it.
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.