"Because in Cyberspace, no one can hear you scream."
Saturday, October 29, 2005
(Earth Times) Starting next October, those applying for US passports will be surprised to find their identities carefully enshrined in radio frequency ID chips implanted in their "new" passports. The announcement that came on Tuesday, hoped to make US standards as close to the "globally interoperable" standards devised by the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization.
Although these RFID chips bear resemblance to the Verichip, their is no indication that their company is involved with this measure (although it would not be a complete surprise if they were). Although there are fears that the new technology would be used to track individuals during this "terror age," the State Department has assured US citizens that they will not be tracked and the purpose of the RFID chips is to prevent fraud.
(Earth Times) The administration is also trying to quell fears of ID theft in assuring that the passports equipped with "anti-skimming material" will mitigate any such threats of surreptitious scanning. But then the technology that is currently in use in retail stores to tag clothes and prevent their pilferage has been demonstrated to work upto 160 feet away, using high powered readers.
While the State Department suggests that the shielding works well "when the passport cover is closed", there are many who wonder what will happen if the cover is left open briefly.
Although this may calm some fears about ID theft, critics argue that such measures are still insecure as passports tend to become bent out-of-shape over time possibly enabling a hi-tech thief to steal information as long as the passport is partially cracked open. One way around this would be for the State Department to have a simple lock on the passport (similar to a journal lock for diaries) which would close the passport regardless of what "shape" it was in.
Either way, if people are concerned about these chips, they have until next October to apply for the "paperback version."
Photo Credit: Image from Earth Times.
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