Chips in official IDs raise privacy fears

Arizona Republic


Climbing into his Volvo, outfitted with a Matrics antenna and a Motorola reader he’d bought on eBay for $190, Chris Paget cruised the streets of San Francisco with this objective: To read the identity cards of strangers, wirelessly, without ever leaving his car. It took him 20 minutes. Zipping past Fisherman’s Wharf, his scanner downloaded to his laptop the unique serial numbers of two pedestrians’ electronic U.S. passport cards embedded with radio-frequency identification, or RFID, tags. Within an hour, he’d ’skimmed’ four more of the new, microchipped PASS cards from a distance of 20 feet. Increasingly, government officials are promoting the chipping of identity documents as a 21st-century application of technology that will help speed border crossings, safeguard credentials against counterfeiters and keep terrorists from sneaking into the country.

Informant: Thomas L. Knapp


ID Chips Raise Concerns Over Identity Theft


Chips in official IDs raise privacy fears

This weekend millions of Americans learned about the dangers of RFID in driver's licenses and other identity documents, thanks to a major story by the Associated Press.

Here is a link to the article:

"Chips in official IDs raise privacy fears"

The article is a lengthy, in-depth investigation of RFID in driver's licenses and passports by AP reporter Todd Lewan, the same tenacious investigator who broke the story about implanted microchips causing cancer a few years back.

Please take the time to read the article in its entirety. It clearly indicts the poor security on so-called "Enhanced Drivers Licenses" or EDLs, the border-crossing ID cards that have now been issued to nearly 200,000 Americans.

As I wrote in Scientific American last fall, EDL's contain RFID tags that can be read from 30-feet away by the government, marketers, criminals, and anyone else with an off-the-shelf reader -- right through a person's pocket, backpack, or purse. They can be used to track individuals, identify them for marketing purposes, or infringe their right to anonymously assemble and speak out against injustice.

My article can be found here:

"How RFID Tags Could Be Used to Track Unsuspecting People"

Todd Lewan's article cites many pro-liberty folks, including Mark Lerner of the Stop REAL-ID Coalition, Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), security researcher Chris Paget, and yours truly.

I was thrilled to see the article appear on the Drudge Report, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, the San Jose Mercury News, the Los Angeles Times, Fox News,, and over 450 other newspapers and media outlets.

While EDL's are bad news, the good news is that the word is getting out. Please help us spread it even further by posting a link to the article on your website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Digg accounts and everywhere else.

Katherine Albrecht, Ed.D. Founder and Director, CASPIAN Consumer Privacy


ACLU and Other Privacy Groups Ask Lawmakers to Oppose 'Pass ID Act'


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