Now this I hadn’t heard of. The US State Department is planning to begin putting RFID chips into American passports.
This is the roughly the same as requiring you to carry around a big sign with your name, passport number, birthday, and place of birth on it whenever you carry your passport in your pocket.
Anyone can scan that chip. And you won’t know that they’ve done it.
And they’ll also be able to grab your passport photo.
Terrorists and criminals could take advantage of the electronic passports to target Americans, according to the Business Travel Coalition, a consumer advocacy group that has been lobbying against the plan.
“American business travelers have taken steps when traveling abroad to maintain a low profile,” a BTC statement says. “While most U.S. citizens do not expect their government to protect them while traveling in foreign lands, they do not expect to have their government knowingly put them in harm’s way.”
The main thrust of opposition to this plan seems to be based on terrorists and kidnapping scenarios, and there’s no doubt that they are very realistic concerns. But the simple fact that, with off-the-shelf equipment, someone else can read your passport info from nearby without your knowledge is pretty serious, I believe.
While the exact range that these things could be read at is debatable (and I have no small personal knowledge in the subject), a reader embedded in a doorway would almost certainly pick it up when you passed through.
Put that in a restaurant or bar in some corner of the world and you could pick your marks without getting up from the computer in the back office.
victim [American citizen] isn’t totally defenseless. A large problem implementing RFID chips in logistics chains is the fact that many materials, particularly certain metals and most liquids, severely restrict the range that RFID chips can be read at. I’ve also got it straight from the Department of Defense that Prell shampoo does the trick.
I guess we should keep our passports underneath our tinfoil hats.