Friday, December 29, 2006

RFID Passport Alterations

Saw this linked at Beyond the Beyond. That link will take you to another RFID article at the blog.

The suggestions on how to disable the RFID chip in the passport are pretty funny.
1) RFID-tagged passports have a distinctive logo on the front cover; the chip is embedded in the back.

2) Sorry, “accidentally” leaving your passport in the jeans you just put in the washer won’t work. You’re more likely to ruin the passport itself than the chip.

3) Forget about nuking it in the microwave – the chip could burst into flames, leaving telltale scorch marks. Besides, have you ever smelled burnt passport?

4) The best approach? Hammer time. Hitting the chip with a blunt, hard object should disable it. A nonworking RFID doesn’t invalidate the passport, so you can still use it.

Though at least they tell you the potential legal issue:
Getting paranoid about strangers slurping up your identity? Here’s what you can do about it. But be careful – tampering with a passport is punishable by 25 years in prison. Not to mention the “special” customs search, with rubber gloves. Bon voyage!
I'm thinking the Faraday wallet is just a better idea. Doesn't alter the passport and get you into the legal issues, it just blocks the radio waves that are used to activate and read the chip.

I definitely don't like RFID chips. Just too many things being secreted into your stuff that can't be easily detected, and in the end, can be used to figure out information about you that you may not want revealed.

The latest RFID scare relates to them in pressure gages on your tires. Engadget discuss this scare as being an overblown scare. Maybe so, my take is that when there is a way to gather information on a person, someone will do it. Sooner or later that information will be used inappropriately.

Consider when the technology starts being put into identifying cars, such as in license plates. This article discusses the use of RFID in license plates in the UK.
The new e-Plates project uses active (battery powered) RFID tags embedded in the plates to identify vehicles in real time. The result is the ability to reliably identify any vehicle, anywhere, whether stationary or mobile, and - most importantly - in all weather conditions. (Previous visually-based licence plate identification techniques have been hampered by factors such as heavy rain, mist, fog, and even mud or dirt on the plates.)
It gives big brother another edge in fighting crime, but I'm uncertain that the benefit will be justified. And anything that the government can use to identify you, someone else can figure out as well. When that happens, people start abusing the information.

More information, isn't necessarily a good thing, especially when it is handed to the bad guys freely.

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