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Old 01-09-2006, 10:07 AM   #1
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So, I just had to renew my passport. I kind of assumed I would wind up with a biometric passport since everything I had read was that they were being phased in at the end of 2005. However, it arrived today and does not appear to be any different from my old one in any way (other than really crisp, new and EMPTY .

I have looked for tell-tale signs of a little chip embedded in it somewhere and cannot find anything at all. So, anyone know what the deal is? I have done several searches on the web and have found only older articles from 2004 and very early 2005 - nothing recent to indicate one way or another exactly where we are on switching to biometrics.

I did note when I filled out the passport application that I was agreeing to possibly receiving a biometric passport. It said in the agreement that the signal produced by the chip could only be deciphered by government equipment. This statement also seemed surprising (and very suspicious) since everything I have read indicated the U.S. was going to use RFID chips that could be read by anyone with a cheap radioshack receiver. Has this plan been scrapped or improved on because of the negative publicity?

If anyone has some recent scoop on any of this, I would appreciate it. I want to know if I need to be a beta test subject for Omi's new RFID-proof wallet . I think I may have snuck in just in time and may be safe from snooping, jack-booted government thugs for another 10 years.
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Old 01-09-2006, 10:32 AM   #2
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Yeah i accidently sent my passport through the washing machine a month or two ago soooo I need a new one as well. I am definitly taking a rolling pin to mine just in case...

but what is the dealio? Anyone know?
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Old 01-09-2006, 03:32 PM   #3
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The deadline for the changeover is October 2006...
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Old 01-10-2006, 05:46 AM   #4
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Omi - is that for the U.S. or for foreign passports? There are two separate deadlines as far as I could see. One is what George W. has imposed for visa-waiver countries to begin producing biometric passports for their citizens (don't you love how we impose our will on other countries??) and the other is for the roll-out of our own biometric passports. Everything I have seen about U.S. passports is that it will be phased in starting in mid-2005 sometime and being fully phased in by 2006 sometime. The below is the most recent article I could find (and it's still 9 months old). All I know is that there is no chip in mine and I am damn happy about. Otherwise, I might have gone Jake's route and used a rolling pin or a small hammer. The article below says if the chip gets broken, you do not have to get a new passport. WTF? That makes a lot of sense - obviously a lot of people will disable the chip asap if that is the rule. This whole process is such a cluster f*ck.



Biometric Passports Set to Take Flight

Your next passport may be electronic, but will it be any more secure?

Erin Biba, Medill News Service
Monday, March 21, 2005
It's official. Your passport is going high-tech.


Biometric passports have made it out of the discussion and testing phase. The State Department's Office of Passport Policy, Planning, and Advisory Services recently announced that it is ready to begin issuing biometric passports.

These passports, which feature an RFID chip, will bring about speedier and more secure entry into and exit from the United States, the government says. However, critics say the technology behind the passports is flawed and puts your personal privacy at stake.


The New National ID
According to the State Department's proposed implementation rule, the agency plans to issue the first passport carrying an RFID chip by mid-2005.

That chip includes all the personal data found on the information page of today's passports. It also contains a biometric component--a digital facial image.

Within a year, all passports issued in the U.S. will feature this technology.

The new passports will comply with requirements set forth by the International Civil Aviation Organization. In 2003 that group adopted a global plan for the implementation of machine-readable passports containing biometric information for its 188 member countries, the United States included.


Your New Passport
The RFID chip will contain a chip identification number (printed on the chip when it is manufactured) and a digital signature (a series of numbers assigned to the chip when the passport is issued). The two numbers will be stored in a central government database along with the personal information contained on the information page.

Once the chip is printed, the information stored on it cannot be altered. Because of this, the Department of State has decided to eliminate today's passport amendments: Going forward, if your information changes, you'll need a new passport.

Normally you have to pay a fee to receive a new passport, but under the new system you'll have one year from when your information changes to apply for a new passport free of charge. That's key, as the price of passports will go up to cover the cost of the new technology. Congress has authorized a $12 surcharge to all new passports, which brings the cost of new 10-year passports from $85 to $97.


Protecting Your Information
The State Department says that information contained in the passport chip will not be encrypted because it's no different from that viewable on the information page. Plus, it says, encrypted data takes longer to read and requires more complicated technology, which makes it difficult to coordinate with other nations.

One of the primary concerns with using RFID chips in the new passports is that the chips can be read from a distance. That means that, potentially, someone with the proper equipment could access the data on your passport if they are physically close enough.

How close is in question. Some privacy experts allege that the RFID chips can be read from as far away as 30 to 65 feet, while government officials say it can be read only in close proximity. The State Department will require all chip readers to be electronically shielded so that electronic signals sending and receiving information will not be transmitted beyond the reader. Additionally, each passport will contain an anti-skimming feature designed to prevent identity thieves from activating and reading the chip from a distance, they say.

The State Department may be trying to protect your privacy, but public interest groups like the Electronic Privacy Information Center say the technology itself is a poor choice.

"Anybody with a little bit of money can read the passports at a distance without getting your consent," says EPIC Technology Fellow R.P. Ruiz. "As a citizen, I would have serious doubts about carrying a U.S. passport. I would feel my government is placing me at unnecessary undue risk."

Ruiz says RFID technology is a scary choice when it comes to electronic identification. "What does being readable from a distance have to do with authenticating a person's identity?" he says. "Why the heck is this not a contact card?"


More Secure?
A contact card, which would be readable by placing a passport or card through a slot (like a credit card), Ruiz says, would significantly reduce the risk of identity theft. RFID "is great technology for tracking cattle; it's absolutely horrible technology for tracking people.

"People who want to read it will [and will do so] at a very safe distance," he says. He also says this type of technology makes it easy to "surreptitiously track anyone's comings and goings. It makes it very easy to target people in public places."

Another area of concern for Ruiz: State Department rules state that if your new passport's electronic chip is damaged or stops working you don't have to replace it. The agency reasons that since that same information resides on the data page of the passport, there's no need to replace a damaged chip.

Ruiz finds that policy puzzling. "If that component is broken," he says, "it's no more secure than what we have now."

If you're concerned about the security of the upcoming passports, Ruiz offers this advice: "Get your paper copy right now before they go electronic."

Passports are valid for a long time, he notes. "You can have five to ten years for [the State Department] to see the error of their way and do it right later," he says.

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Old 01-10-2006, 10:19 AM   #5
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I believe that's for US passports. The specs were finalized last October, I think, giving them a year to start the implementation.
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Old 01-10-2006, 11:14 AM   #6
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dam...that would be insane
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Old 01-11-2006, 01:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by LiveFreeorDie@Jan 9 2006, 08:07 PM
I think I may have snuck in just in time and may be safe from snooping, jack-booted government thugs for another 10 years.*
[snapback]97579[/snapback]
Hey! I resemble that remark!

That makes sense, though, since much of the government seems to be going paperless and electronic. It would make beefing up border security in the States a much easier and more viable process since photos and names/aliases could be flagged, and let's face it, the border security in place in the US is abysmal in the best case scenario.

Unfortunately, security and privacy will never be able to coexist...and if you look at Western democracies as a group, the US is one of the only ones left without a dedicated security apparatus that can circumvent most if not all civil liberties. France has the Bureau of Territorial Security, Israel has the Shin Bet, Britain has MI5, etc. You could say the US has the FBI, but that isn't an agency dedicated SOLELY to domestic surveillance and security like the European ones are. Last I heard there was a lot of pushing for a domestic security agency like MI5, but civil liberties people are screaming about it. I think it's only a matter of time, though, for better or for worse.

The PATRIOT act was just the first step into inevitability, I 'spose.
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Old 01-28-2006, 01:16 PM   #8
 
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Here's something great that was just featured on boingboing.net!

HOWTO turn a disposable camera into an RFID-killer!

Now you can disable biometric passports (and anything else with an RFID tag, including London Oyster cards)! As was said, the State Department's position is that if the RFID tag should malfunction, you won't be required to get a new passport.
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Old 01-30-2006, 11:09 AM   #9
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Hahha.. I read that article last week and am tempted to go try it out, but I don't think I have anything with RFID to try it out on. :-/
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Old 01-30-2006, 10:05 PM   #10
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A link guys...

http://www.prisonplanet.com/022904rfidtagsexplode.html




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Old 01-31-2006, 12:06 PM   #11
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That is CRAZY joker. Unbelievable. Freakin government....
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Old 01-31-2006, 02:39 PM   #12
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with the whole thing of the biometric passports: i didn't really understand why everyone was making a huge deal about it, but with the money... wow... that's craziness.

im gonna have to read 1984...
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Old 01-31-2006, 02:46 PM   #13
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Wow, I am embarrassed to admit this is the first I`ve heard about it.

Technology truly is amazing these days though...

I won`t need to worry about it for awhile; my current passport is valid until 2013. (Though how do we get more pages? I am just about out of space!!! )
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Old 01-31-2006, 03:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Though how do we get more pages? I am just about out of space!!!
Ah, quit yer braggin! I have a long way to go before mine is filled.
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Old 01-31-2006, 04:05 PM   #15
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^Me too, but I still have one stamp on almost every single page because customs officials don't look to see what they're doing.
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Old 01-31-2006, 06:26 PM   #16
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Well, a lot of them are entrance/exit stamps from the same place. I probably have at least 8 different Argentina stamps. So it`s not as exciting as it sounds.

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Old 02-01-2006, 03:03 PM   #17
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You can get more pages added at a consulate (if your traveling) or through your local passport agency. I had to do that last year, myself.
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Old 02-01-2006, 04:25 PM   #18
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by juliagulia@Jan 31 2006, 06:39 PM
with the whole thing of the biometric passports: i didn't really understand why everyone was making a huge deal about it, but with the money... wow... that's craziness.

im gonna have to read 1984...
[snapback]100756[/snapback]
as for why people were making a big deal out of it, imagine this...

you're in the middle east, traveling. because you're a woman, you've opted to wear traditional clothing and you wear a hijab. because of your clothing, you're indistinguishable from a local. you're having a great vacation, and nobody can tell you're american.

you're standing in line somewhere...and all of a sudden, you're kidnapped.
because you're american. how did they know? the passport you have in your money belt under your clothing and your hijab is quite literally broadcasting "I AM A US CITIZEN. MY NAME IS __ MY BIRTHDATE IS __" etc etc

how does that make you feel?
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Old 02-01-2006, 05:01 PM   #19
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Or, God forbid, I ever have to go underground to form a resistance movement these biometric and travel across the border under a falsified passport. The digital info would seriously hamper my efforts.
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Old 02-01-2006, 11:21 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by Somnambulation@Feb 1 2006, 06:01 PM
Or, God forbid, I ever have to go underground to form a resistance movement these biometric and travel across the border under a falsified passport. The digital info would seriously hamper my efforts.
[snapback]100871[/snapback]
And this is EXACTLY why I'm pursuing dual citizenship.
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