TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Wired News: American Passports to Get Chipped

Re: Wired News: American Passports to Get Chipped

William Warren (
Tue, 16 Nov 2004 16:10:02 GMT

On Mon, 15 Nov 2004 13:50:59 -0800, Steve Sobol <>

> Marcus Didius Falco wrote:

>> "The reason we are doing this is that it simply makes passports more
>> secure," Shannon said. "It's yet another layer beyond the security
>> features we currently use to ensure the bearer is the person who was
>> issued the passport originally."

> Moron. Let's store personal information digitally, and not encrypt it!
> That'll make it MORE secure!

Yes, it will. If the passport holder knows that the data is available at
every doorway, (s)he will take steps to protect it that (s)he might have
neglected if "encryption" persuaded otherwise.

>> While there are no laws in the United States prohibiting anyone from
>> snooping on someone's passport data, Roy Want, an RFID expert who
>> works as a principal engineer for Intel Research, thinks that the
>> possibility of identity theft is overblown.

>> "It is actually quite hard to read RFID at a distance," said Want.

> Sure it is. Didn't a couple major retail chains have trouble with
> people reading RFID tags this past year?

> Why should we believe someone who works for Intel, a company that could
> potentially profit big from a large deployment of RFID?

Reading data outside the Immigration Office is what Bruce Schnier
artfully describes as an "Externality". Intel doesn't bear the cost of
identity theft, privacy invasion, and/or other abuses such as
customer-profit-potential-pre-screening (Have a good medical plan?
Want the ambulance attendant to know that?). Intel doesn't care about
the costs you pay; only its own.

Of course, this issue would be better seen outside the "Passport"
metaphor that's being used for this trial balloon: everybody "knows"
that you "must" have a passport to cross a border, so passports are
safe places to put rfid chips.

However, if the War On Terror [TM] or the Campaign To Save Our
Children [TM] or (pick your buzzword) requires it, RFID chips can be
easily and painlessly implanted below the skin in the delivery
room. Think of the advantages: you'll never have to prove who you are,
ever again, not to the cop at the demonstration, not to the cop at the
caucus meeting, not to the cop in your woodpile, not to the cop who's
knocking on your front door.

William "And then they came for me" Warren

(With apologies to the Firesign Theatre)

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