Monday, 13 December 2004

RFID and biometric passports move forward despite objections

Despite increasingly visible outcry against them both in the USA and Europe, RFID pssports including digitally encoded biometric data (such as fingerprints, photos, and/or iris scans) are moving toward adoption and deployment on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the USA, the ACLU has posted excerpts on its passport Web site from government documents on the development of the RFID passport standards obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and an analysis of how the USA was aware of, and proceeded in spite of, known risks and concerns raised by other governments about the lack of encryption and vulnerability to identity theft, “skimming” (clandestine reading), and “cloning” of passports using the standards proposed by the USA for worldwide use.

Meanwhile, the Council of the European Union [my original referecne to the “Council of europe” was in error] has moved rapidly to require fingerprints to be included on all European Union passports, and in a central database, disregarding objections from members of the European Parliament and an Open Letter to the European Parliament on Biometric Registration of All EU Citizens and Residents from Privacy International, Statewatch, European Digital Rights (EDRi), and dozens of other organizations and activists.

EDRi and Statewatch have more details and links.

[Addendum, 14 December 2004: EDRi reports that the requirement for fingerprints on all EU passports — but without mention of a centralized fingerprint and photo database — received final approval by the European Union’s Council of Ministers on 13 December 2004. Statewatch has additional details including the full text of the regulation as adopted. Exactly as in the USA, the EU regulation avoids any explicit requirement for RFID chips in passports, but does so implicitly by incorporating International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Document 9303 into eu law. In effect, this delegates to ICAO the power to legislate for both the EU and the USA, and and gives whatever future changes ICAO makes to Document 9303 — which is already the object of near-universal criticism from security experts, civil libertarians, and even many in the RFID industry — the force of law without further debate.]

Link | Posted by Edward on Monday, 13 December 2004, 23:57 (11:57 PM)
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