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Privacy worries surround ID-scanning machines

November 24, 2008 by  

Travellers may have their IDs scanned when they cross bordersNew radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that is able to read information about travelers who are crossing borders has raised concerns among privacy advocates.

The Department of Homeland Security has already installed machines that read data contained on government-issued ID cards at five border crossings, USA Today reports.

These devices work by scanning the computer chips embedded in travellers’ passports, passcards and driver’s licenses, then displaying the data on a screen for border patrol agents.

However, privacy advocates have warned that people’s personal information is at risk of being accessed by others – including terrorists – at distances of up to 50 feet.

"There’s this strange rush to a fancy of shiny new technology," Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told the news provider, adding that the ID cards are actually "quite vulnerable" to misuse or a data breach.

Homeland Security has suggested that the new process will be more efficient and safer than the previous system of manually checking IDs. It has also emphasized that the data on the chips are encoded.

In August, privacy concerns were raised when the government announced that it would be retaining records of Americans’ border crossings by land for a period 15 years.

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  • Mung

    Dear Bob,
    I wonder how unsafe those ancient people who used to live without all of these scrutiny. Perhaps, the Revelation in the scripture of the bilble is being fulfilled.

  • Mung

    Dear Bob,
    I wonder how unsafe those ancient people who used to live without all of these scrutiny. Perhaps, the Revelation in the scripture of the bible is being fulfilled.

  • Sane American

    One month after the twin towers went down, I suggested a system to Washington D.C. that would handle airport security in one ssytem as well as all other borders and internal traffic as well.

    The difference about the proposed system and all others is it is designed to protect the privacy of one’s identity and keep access bound by existing privacy laws of today and the warrant system in place.

    Congress is well aware of this solution as is the press who has never looked into the matter.

    • Gary

      Sane American,

      With identity theft on the rise, and countless Americans spending thousands to clear their name, without a hint of help from legal or government or punishment, I don’t see putting an ounce more faith in the government “protecting” our identity.

      I have heard too many stories of Federal servers getting hacked, or some idiot in a federal office getting their laptop stolen with the entire database on it. No thanks. I’ll take care of my own identity security if you don’t mind!

  • Dale

    Sane American – keep on approacing others about your ideas.

  • Dale

    FYI: Passive RFID technology is not new but it will probably be the roadway to the Bible’s saying that you will not be able to buy without the mark of the Beast. If you refuse a chip (or the system that is behind the chip) then you can’t buy or sell. It is like trying to get money out of the bank when your account is closed. You can get nothing!

    The RFID can ‘share your info’ with others if not handled right.

    A passive RFID will not transmit any information unless is receives energy from a device that polls it. The polling transmitter’s energy is stored in the RFID chip and the chip responds to the polling device by transmitting the information requested. They don’t just transmit unless they have the right polling information sent to them.

    With proper security built into the chips program then it will only respond to the right ‘key’ data to unlock it.

    • Gary

      Not to mention the other side of things. We all know the government can’t keep anything secret. It won’t be long before the encryption algorithm is hacked and people create their own cards, with YOUR identity in it! We already have seen how they created readers to install on ATM machines to capture your data. It’s much easier to build a reader that doesn’t even need to touch the card. Just walking down the street will get you “read”.

      RFID is great for tracking things in warehouses, and packages in shipment, but for people tracking? I don’t think so. It’s none of their business where I go or when.

  • Suzannah in the South

    Dear Bob and Dale:

    I am really wondering about this RFID technology. Its seems that it’s not a far stretch to suppose that they will make up any excuse, like needing a national id system to “protect” American citizens from terrorism, behind the subterfuge of “national security” to put those id chip inside people’s bodies, and then they have total control. They have already devalued our currency and almost have us to a paperless, cash-less society to control us. Now they want to censor everything, especially talk radio, ministers on TV and radio, and the Internet. Pray for our nation.

  • Enlightened one

    I was aginst Bushs Patriot Act , still Am , if anything was ever facist and gave the goverment power over anything and everything it’s this vile Marxist act…. I remember you rightwing Bush loving anti American, goverment hating,
    Domestic terrorist telling me ” if you don’t do anything wrong , then you need not worry”… As much as I dispise the patriot act and National I D Cards .. You rightys deserve this….. So, if you don’t do anything wrong , you need not worry……… Same thing you said about Bushs illegal wiretapping… You people aren’t patriots , conservatives or moral….the hypocracy of complaining about tyranny and socialism… And ID cards…. Your dispicable.. And save all that religious nonsense … I don’t believe you even believe your Christians

    • Gary

      enlightenedone, you sure don’t sound too “enlighten” to me. You sound like a hate filled, selfish bigot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about (you obviously don’t know about the Patriot Act) and all you can do, as usual is call people names. You have no substance, and you can not articulate any intelligent points. Best to keep your vitriol to yourself then to expose it to the world so we can all see your hatred.

  • Gary

    Oh, now people are upset about the government retaining personal data on folks. Where were these people when the NRA and gun owners were fighting this same issue with gun registration? Sure is funny how some people get excited only when the issue touches their lives. Why don’t we all pay attention to EVERY threat of EVERY right and freedom we posses? Time to join up and fight on ALL fronts or one day we won’t have ANY freedoms left!


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