I Know Where You've Been

MSNBC is reporting on new, scannable biometric passports being issued by the US government.

The US has begun issuing passports that contain biometric information stored on remotely readable microchips, in spite of lingering security and privacy concerns.

Supporters of the new passports say they enhance border security, reduce the possibility of identity fraud and impose minimal burdens on travelers - all goals the US has been working towards since the September 11 attacks.

But civil liberties and privacy groups are uneasy about the formation of biometric information databases on US citizens and concerned that identity-theft rings, foreign government agents or even terrorist groups could "skim" information from the RFID chips or "eavesdrop" on the communication between official readers and the microchips.
Last month hackers broke the code being used on similar Dutch Passports. This is a danger the chips contain all the data currently contained within the passport (name, birth date, etc.) and a digitized version of your passport photo. It is unclear if the chips can be scanned (or hacked) from a distance but at entrypoints the passport would be scanned and compared to "a national database for identity verification." Whether your entry and exit would be recorded is not indicated.

The concept that you cannot come and go as you please without records being kept of your movement is rather unsettling.

While only issued to US diplomats so far, these new passports will be issued to all applicants in October.

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