Wednesday, 18 March 2009
"All Things Considered" on RFID chips in passports
Today's edition of "All Things Considered" includes a puff piece on e-passports with embedded RFID chips, based entirely on government propaganda. They quoted not a single critic of RFID chips in passports or other travel and identity documents, even though members of the public who submitted comments on the proposal to embed RFID chips in passports were overwhelmingly opposed to RFID passports as a government-imposed security vulnerability.
I've sent NPR the following response and rebuttal to their story. If you think this deserves more balanced and skeptical coverage -- now and when they revisit related issues in the future -- I encourage you to let them know .
Link | Posted by Edward on Wednesday, 18 March 2009, 16:49 ( 4:49 PM) | TrackBack (0)
It's unfortunate that you reported these claims so uncritically, relying on the press spokesperson for ICAO without seeking out or noting opposing views or alternate interpretations.
Contrary to the claim in your subhead, "A Big Advance In Border Security", e-passports create a huge security vulnerability by broadcasting personal information about the passpoort holder to anyone with an off-the-shelf RFID reader within range, as has been widely discussed and publicly demonstrated.
The encryption scheme has already been cracked , and the globally unique identifying number in the chip is transmitted in the clear, making it possible to use e-passports for secret surveillance and tracking without even bothering to decrypt the rest of the data.
RFID passports were adopted by ICAO under heavy pressure from the USA, not because they enhance security but in spite of their known security vulnerabilities, and because they facilitate surveillance and logging of the movements of travellers, as was openly discussed at ICAO meetings on e-passports that I attended.