zen.org Communal Weblog

April 29, 2005

Don't believe everything you hear

Filed under: — brendan @ 13:28 GMT

At the recent CFP in Seattle, a rep of the US State Department tried to explain why the RFID proposed to go into US passports was as safe as could be. Nobody can read a thing unless they’re about 10cm (about 4 inches) away. Really.

You worry too much.

Then Barry Steinhardt of the ACLU showed how you could be a good meter (about 3-1/2 feet) away and still read all of the details from it. It’s just as applicable to UK passports; the experiences of both sides ought to make people reasonably worried about not letting the government give your identity away with sloppy use of RFID.

The US seems to be backing off a bit. They’re considering a plan they had rejected before—require authentication before allowing anything to be read from the RFID chip, and even then require it to be transmitted in encrypted form. Sounds a lot better to me…

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