Privacy worries surround ID-scanning machines

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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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