RFID Passport Security
According to a Wired article, the State Department is reconsidering a security measure to protect privacy that it previously rejected.
The solution would require an RFID reader to provide a key or password before it could read data embedded on an RFID passport's chip. It would also encrypt data as it's transmitted from the chip to a reader so that no one could read the data if they intercepted it in transit.
The devil is in the details, but this is a great idea. It means that only readers that know a secret data string can query the RFID chip inside the passport. Of course, this is a systemwide global secret and will be in the hands of every country, but it's still a great idea.
It's nice to read that the State Department is taking privacy concerns seriously.
Frank Moss, deputy assistant secretary for passport services, told Wired News on Monday that the government was "taking a very serious look" at the privacy solution in light of the 2,400-plus comments the department received about the e-passport rule and concerns expressed last week in Seattle by participants at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference. Moss said recent work on the passports conducted with the National Institute of Standards and Technology had also led him to rethink the issue.
"Basically what changed my mind was a recognition that the read rates may have actually been able to be more than 10 centimeters, and also recognition that we had to do everything possible to protect the security of people," Moss said.
The next step is for them to actually implement this countermeasure, and not just consider it. And the step after that is for us to get our hands on some test passports to see if they've implemented it well.
Posted on April 28, 2005 at 8:30 AM • 37 Comments