[LINK] US RFID Study frozen out by Homeland Security

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Tue Oct 31 09:50:53 AEDT 2006

Feds Leapfrog RFID Privacy Study


> Jim Harper, a Cato Institute fellow who serves on the committee and  
> who recently published a book on identification called Identity  
> Crisis, thinks he knows why the Department of Homeland Security  
> Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee report on the use of  
> Radio Frequency Identification devices for human identification  
> (.pdf) never made it out of the draft stage.
> "The powers that be took a good run at deep-sixing this report,"  
> Harper said. "There's such a strongly held consensus among industry  
> and DHS that RFID is the way to go that getting people off of that  
> and getting them to examine the technology is very hard to do."
> RFID chips, which either have a battery or use the radio waves from  
> a reader to send information, are widely used in tracking inventory  
> or for highway toll payment systems.
> But critics argue that hackers can skim information off the chips  
> and that the chips can be used to track individuals. Hackers have  
> also been able to clone some chips, such as those used for payment  
> cards and building security, as well as passports.
> The draft report concludes that "RFID appears to offer little  
> benefit when compared to the consequences it brings for privacy and  
> data integrity" -- a finding that was widely criticized by RFID  
> industry officials when the committee met in June.
> Meanwhile, the RFIDs just keeping coming. Last week, the State  
> Department announced that it would soon be issuing new cards for  
> visitors to Mexico, Canada and the Bermudas containing a chip that  
> could be read from 20 feet away.
> Changes in federal law will require Americans to have either a  
> passport or the new "PASS card" to re-enter the country by air in  
> 2007. Currently a driver's license will suffice to get an American  
> back inside the country from these neighboring spots, but starting  
> in 2008 that won't suffice even for quick, cross-border jaunts by car.
> RFID chips are being used in the nation's passports, cards used to  
> identify transportation workers and cards for federal employees,  
> and may be features of the Registered Traveler program, the soon-to- 
> be-released standards for all states' driver's licenses under the  
> REAL-ID act, as well as proposed medical cards.
> Homeland Security spokesman Larry Orluskie says no one's trying to  
> kill the report. "The committee is still soliciting input and the  
> draft report is on its website, so I guess they are proceeding,"  
> Orluskie said.
> In early October, the Center for Democracy and Technology, a civil  
> liberties group known for partnering with industry groups,  
> submitted comments criticizing the draft report, calling for a  
> deeper factual inquiry and analysis, and a broader focus on  
> identification technologies generally.

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
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