RFID ID Beacons

A few years back, I wrote a bit about the dangers of putting RFID chips into US passports: Are they nuts?

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.

The plan was shelved temporarily, but since August 2007, only the new chipped e-passports have been issued.

Here’s some news: Hacker war drives San Francisco cloning RFID passports

Using a $250 Motorola RFID reader and antenna connected to his laptop, Chris recently drove around San Francisco reading RFID tags from passports, driver licenses, and other identity documents. In just 20 minutes, he found and cloned the passports of two very unaware US citizens. Fortunately, Chris wears a white hat; his video demonstration is meant to raise awareness to what he calls the unsuitability of RFID for tagging people. Specifically, he’s hoping to help get the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative — a homeland security project — scrapped.

Via Phil at RNS.


  1. You’ll start to see companies selling copper mesh sleeves for these passports, best way to fix the problem (from your end at least) is just to put it in a faraday cage.

  2. Actually, some folks are already selling these for $20 and up. When I head east next month I’m tempted to wrap the bastard in tinfoil and see if some bored customs official will acquiesce to a quick field experiment.

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