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Cruising Fisherman's Wharf For New Passports' Serial Numbers

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the sub-exactly-because-for-even-though dept.

Privacy 276

schwit1 writes "Fox News has an AP story on a hacker in San Francisco driving around and needing as little as 20 minutes to be successful in acquiring a passport number: 'Zipping past Fisherman's Wharf, his scanner detected, then downloaded to his laptop, the unique serial numbers of two pedestrians' electronic US passport cards embedded with radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags. Within an hour, he'd "skimmed" the identifiers of four more of the new, microchipped PASS cards from a distance of 20 feet. ... Meanwhile, Homeland Security has been promoting broad use of RFID even though its own advisory committee on data integrity and privacy warned that radio-tagged IDs have the potential to allow "widespread surveillance of individuals" without their knowledge or consent.'"

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Security (4, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666667)

It's strange that politicians and other managers seem to have a totally different idea of the meaning of the word 'security' than other people.

You and the submitter are naive. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666721)

Meanwhile, Homeland Security has been promoting broad use of RFID even though its own advisory committee on data integrity and privacy warned that radio-tagged IDs have the potential to allow "widespread surveillance of individuals" without their knowledge or consent."

s/even though/exactly because/g

Dupe of a dupe of a dupe. (1, Offtopic)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666831)

Slashdot has covered this story before, many times [google.com] , beginning at least as early as 2005.

Re:Dupe of a dupe of a dupe. (4, Insightful)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666997)

Yes, but the people in charge still haven't listened!

Re:Dupe of a dupe of a dupe. (3, Interesting)

GuyWithLag (621929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667501)

There's even a YA novel (Little Brother) by Doctorow that has this issue as a plot point; somehow I doubt that the people in charge are going to read it...

Re:Security (4, Insightful)

innerweb (721995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666731)

What the heck do you think they intended the RIFD passports for? They are meant to be used to track people. They are working as intended.

InnerWeb

tracking (3, Insightful)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667079)

Yeah, and I'm less concerned about passports being counterfeited than I am about people carrying US passports in other countries being targeted for mugging. Those passports are valuable, you know.

Re:Security (3, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666977)

You act as if they were interested in your security at all.
Which just shows how effective their strong twisted reality is. It even affects you to the point where you believe they would be acting ouf of the interest of the people. :)

Don't worry, we all fell for it. As long as we learn from it, that is ok. :)

Re:Security (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667299)

You forget that they themselves will be just as trackable. As a politician I would be very worried about that. For some reason though, they seem to not care, which I find weird. So either they really don't care, or they just have not clue. What do you think it is? ;)

Re:Security (1)

LVSlushdat (854194) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667737)

You forget that they themselves will be just as trackable. As a politician I would be very worried about that. For some reason though, they seem to not care, which I find weird. So either they really don't care, or they just have not clue. What do you think it is? ;)

Either that or.... Their passports "magically" do not have the RFID... perhaps a "governmental passport"... Its getting so you don't even need the tin-foil hat to see the conspiracies out there.......

Re:Security (3, Funny)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667859)

I think it's even stranger that Slashdot has a totally different idea of the meaning of "cruising Fisherman's Wharf" than I do. My version has more sailors involved.

Nothing to worry about... (5, Interesting)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666685)

You just need to buy an RFID shield [rfid-shield.com] for your passport and you can put your mind at ease. Unless, of course, you want to worry about how they don't work [youtube.com] .

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666755)

99% of the time, you really shouldn't be carrying your passport with you anyway. I can't imagine what people are doing walking around San Francisco with their US passports. Unless you're on the way to the airport or about to cross a national border somewhere, your passport should be stashed somewhere safe. Keep a photocopy on you if you must.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (5, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666765)

And safety is really easy to come by in a hotel in Somalia.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666823)

I'm sorry, did you have some kind of point? The story was talking about San Francisco.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (2, Insightful)

six11 (579) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666955)

And safety is really easy to come by in a hotel in Somalia.

I'm sorry, did you have some kind of point? The story was talking about San Francisco.

Were you kidding?

If US passport data can be easily acquired in San Francisco (where US citizens generally don't carry them), then it follows that said data will be abundant in areas where people are likely to carry passports. Somalia was just an example. Replace it with your favorite vacation getaway spot, if you like.

blackraven's comment is +5 insightful IMO.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666963)

Somalia was just an example. Replace it with your favorite vacation getaway spot

Are you fucking kidding me?

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667027)

We drink and we pillage and we do what we please
We get all we want for free
We'll kick your ass and rape your lass
Somalian pirates we!

So with a yo-ho-ho (yo ho ho!)
and with a yee-hee-hee (yee hee hee!)
We take to the African sea.
We'll brave the squalls and bust your balls
Somalian pirates we!

We left our homes and we left our mutters [mothers]
to go on a pillaging spree
We'll cut of your ears and break your toes,
And make you drink our pee.

And if you sail into our waters
You best hear this decree:
We'll take your boat, set your ass afloat,
Somalian pirates we!

With a yo-ho-ho and a tricki-la-ti-doo
We'll shoot you in the face with glee
Then we'll cut off your cock and feed it to a croc
Somalian pirates we!

Re:Nothing to worry about... (1)

gander666 (723553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667295)

Or in Germany, where my passport was stolen from one of those in-room safes (physically destroyed to open, not hacked into).

Re:Nothing to worry about... (5, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666835)

Well, as Fisherman's Wharf is a tourist attraction, I would think that the majority of the people are tourists.

And about the part that says about what people should do, people should design a secure system where one of the factors is that people WILL carry them around on Fisherman's Wharf. Do not blame the users for usage, blame the designer for not putting it in the design.

The 'stupidity' of the users is well known and well documented. Persons are smart, people are stupid. If you deal with security, that is what you have to think about. If you don't, your design will be flawed.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666845)

Persons are smart, people are stupid.

Correction. People are stupid. Persons are slightly less stupid.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (1)

medlefsen (995255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667303)

Why would a US citizen carry a US passport to a location inside of the US?

Re:Nothing to worry about... (1)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667607)

Maybe its just one stop on a trip that goes out of country?

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667317)

The 'stupidity' of the users is well known and well documented. Very very few persons are smart, people are stupid. If you deal with security...

There, fixed that for ya.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666857)

They scanned passport cards, not regular passports; presumably, quite a few of the folks carrying them around San Francisco travel to Mexico on a regular basis.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667113)

San Francisco is a little farther from Mexico than a simple day trip drive. Over 8 hours one way, and that is just to get to San Diego. Add another hour in line at the border crossing and you easily have a 9 to 10 hour trip one way, sometime encroaching 12 hours depending on a day.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (1)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667243)

Ok, but when you are in another country you should be carrying your passport 100% of the time.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667517)

Nothing says that hackers can't drive down your street, and pick up the RFID from your passport while it is sitting "securely" in your home.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666757)

newfag

Re:Nothing to worry about... (1)

darkitecture (627408) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666795)

Or you could, you know, stick the thing in the microwave for ten seconds.

Enough to zap the chip, not enough to toast the paperwork.

Done and done, job well done.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (3, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666803)

Or you could, you know, stick the thing in the microwave for ten seconds. Enough to zap the chip, not enough to toast the paperwork.

Good luck trying to cross the border with your "forged" passport.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (2, Funny)

aclarke (307017) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667193)

I'm Canadian and went to renew my passport on Friday. My existing passport was still valid for a couple more weeks, but the woman across the desk thought it was expired as her machine didn't read it. She told me this, and I explained to her with a straight face that maybe that was because I'd microwaved my passport (I hadn't really).

She didn't get the joke, which was just as well I suppose.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667783)

Speaking as a civil servant - you used humour on a civil servant?

Re:Nothing to worry about... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667539)

I tried that with a cancelled RFID credit card.

In 3 seconds it had already let out smoke.

One second later (literally) I stopped the microwave. The card had a VERY visible "melt" ring where the RFID antenna was and was damaged enough it would not read in my CC reader anymore.

Don't do this with anything you care about. A rubber mallet is more effective and leaves fewer traces.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (4, Informative)

theeddie55 (982783) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666827)

Except that the RFID shield you reference is entirely different to the passport shielding that video demonstrates to be ineffective.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666867)

It could be that the defective design is a feature - a calculated one that the good guys will get a greater advantage than the bad guys. Such as demanding a passport when there is a run on a financial institution or ration queue.
The trouble is bad guys and illegals already know this and how to shield properly against more than one frequency/sigint.
As arrival and boarding lists are already pre-processed, bullshit claims of efficiency and whatever are crap.

The scheme fails, in that countries of interest will never go for RFID, where they run a trade surplus of money and other repatriations, hence the fingerprinting and such. Bottom line: there is no cost/benefit for Americans, its just a hare brain scheme that somehow got out.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (3, Insightful)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666885)

No, people shouldn't have to pay $20 for a way to make this technology safer. The government should improve their own shielding, and use more secure protocols [wikipedia.org] for RFID transmission.

So what does work? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666911)

If these RFID shields don't work, does anyone know something that does?

Re:So what does work? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666973)

theeddie55 says in another reply to vrmlguy that the video does not say anything about the linked product, it demonstrates that the protection built into passports is insufficient, and the description for the video (I'm on a modem and haven't watched it yet) says that the video demonstrates a better method of protection.

So it looks like vrmlguy is a headless chicken. As I understand it, the various protection sleeves are just Faraday cages and are essentially impossible to circumvent.

RFID Shield company seems clueless (2, Interesting)

daryl_and_daryl (1005065) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667095)

I find it interesting that the logo for rfid-shield contains the physical contact layout pattern for a smart card, and not a rfid device, which requires no contact.

This does not inspire trust in a technology company.

Who is the marketing genius that came up with this idea ??

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667097)

Just put it in the Microwave for 3 seconds and it will fix it.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667389)

Thanks for the Youtube link. I noticed a few minutes into the video that Napoleon Dynamite seems to be working as a security consultant now.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667547)

WIred magazine did a test on the RFID chips, they found a hammer was the best way to secure them. Thats right beat it to death. The passport is still valid.

Re:Nothing to worry about... (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667703)

You just need to buy an RFID shield for your passport and you can put your mind at ease. Unless, of course, you want to worry about how they don't work.

Thanks for the interesting links!

As others have noted, your analysis isn't quite correct. For those who don't want to watch the whole video in your second link, here's a summary of what it says. It demonstrates a security vulnerability. The vulnerability does not involve theft of data, because there's encryption built into the passport. What it demonstrates is that if you leave your passport open by half an inch, the built-in shielding doesn't work as well, with the result that from a range of 6 inches, it's possible to detect the fact that the passport is there, and that it's a US passport rather than some other country's. (Actually they didn't really demonstrate selectivity by nationality, but they claim it's possible.) They say this exposes US tourists in foreign countries to a risk of violence targeted specifically against Americans. They demonstrate the risk by hanging a dummy from a clothesline, with a passport attached to the dummy, open half an inch. They pull it along the clothesline past an explosive device with a detector, which explodes when the passport comes within 6 inches of the detector. They also demonstrate an improved shielding system they devised, which prevents detection even when the passport is open half an inch.

Your first link is a company that sells Faraday-cage wallets for $20.

So my analysis would be as follows:

  1. I'm sure the Faraday-cage wallets work fine, because they're based on solid physical principles. However, $20 is kind of a lot of money to pay for what is essentially 10 cents worth of aluminum foil.
  2. In the case of a US passport, the Faraday-cage wallet isn't necessary. You're better off just getting a binder clip to hold your passport shut, so that it won't accidentally open by half an inch while it's on your person.
  3. The binder clip should be cheap and 100% effective protection against the farfetched threat in the video. But the threat in the video is farfetched, because there are much easier ways of finding American tourists. Like they speak English. And they dress like Americans. And they carry cameras. And some of them follow tour guides who explain, loudly, in English, the local sightseeing attractions.
  4. There are other things you might be carrying around that could have RFID, e.g., credit cards, cafeteria debit cards, or employee ID cards. A Faraday cage of some type might be a useful thing to protect these, but I'd need a lot more analysis to know whether the effort was worth it. How do I know which items in my wallet do have RFID built in? Are they encrypted? What are the possible exploits for each item?

Re:Nothing to worry about... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667855)

The only problem I have is that while Flexilis may have a good point, the video you linked to is rubbish as far as proving their point. It could just as easily have been a rigged thing for their "demo". They needed to show things just a bit better than that- it's all smoke and mirrors with it as it is now.

staying anonymious (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666691)

i understand its near impossible to get a proper reading if you say have two rfid cards right next to eachother, so just put 1-2 rfid cards with random info between your passport and wallet

Re:staying anonymious (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667251)

Security through obscurity works every time.

Or not.

Fighting the wrong battle (-1, Flamebait)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666701)

That RFID, coupled with other technologies, could make people trackable without their knowledge or consent.

People already are easilt trackable. CCTV coupled with facial recognition is a far more effective way to follow an individual than relying on a web of RFID sensors, needed one every 20 feet. This is especially true when the RFID sniffing is so easily defeated - keep your passport under your tinfoil hat. (To be fair, face recog. is also pretty easy to fool: fale beard and dark glasses, anyone?)

However, keep up the paranoia, guys One day all your fears might just come to pass.

Re:Fighting the wrong battle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666747)

Sure, but with facial recognition you'd first need a good database. The RFID in those passwords makes life a lot easier for terrorists wanting to strike at American tourists, for example.

Re:Fighting the wrong battle (3, Informative)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666805)

A lot of times, you have a photo of the "suspect" who's movement you want to track (either from other surveillance, or a mugshot - or even from their passport phot. The reason you're told not to smile is because the P.R. software has a harder time dealing with it - same with glasses wearers.). All that's needed is to feed the photo into the recognition system and give it all your CCTV footage to crunch. This is how surveillance societies like Britain tend to do it now.

You're right though, that you can't just type in "tell me where Joe Soap went on thursday afternoon" into the system and get an list of his/her whereabouts, but for targeted individuals, tracking without their permission has been available for some time.

Re:Fighting the wrong battle (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666833)

"This is how surveillance societies like Britain tend to do it now. "

Citation needed.

Really, the UK has billions of cameras, but few people watching them and I'd be very, very surprised if they had anything approaching the level of sophistication you're talking about.

Re:Fighting the wrong battle (3, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666903)

Those billion cameras are primarily a reactive system, not proactive. While they were initially sold on the public as a crime prevention and safety thing, they don't exist that way any longer. I guess in many ways it is a good thing that there are just too many to be monitored in real time. This makes your simple trip to the store utterly irrelevant and not of interest to anyone - but if your trip happens to coincide with some idiot crashing his car in to the aforementioned store, knocking you down in the process, then someone, be it insurance, police, ambulance, or whatever, might dredge it up for review. All in all you and I are just lost in the noise while the only valuable signal makes the nightly news.

RFID is a pretty good filter if your aim is to create a choke point (i.e. immigration counters) - you can file people past a scanner, snap off their picture without them knowing, have a drone somewhere do a comparison with the databased image, or run it through your super computer in the basement to do it for you.

Re:Fighting the wrong battle (1)

internewt (640704) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667307)

I severely doubt we (currently) have facial recognition hooked up to the network of CCTV in this country, but what we do have is ANPR - automatic number plate recognition - all over the place.

There are very obvious cameras around that point clearly at the lanes on major roads which are logging all vehicles using major routes. I should think ANPR also gets hooked up to existing CCTV infrastructure too.

And the police seem to routinely have ANPR in their cars these days too. Well, maybe not the "panda cars" that get used for day to day pig work (runs to the doughnut shop and back, for example), but the traffic cars do. Watch any recent UK cop show (like <accent="Manc">Road Wars</accent>) and you will see them using their ANPR. The police cruise around looking for people to ticket (usually no seatbelts or something minor - you know, dangerous criminals), whilst the cameras in their vehicles are reading every numberplate they see. The machine then alerts the tax collectors^W^W police if a car is less than perfect. So any problem with insurance, car registration, owner's licence, road tax and the car will get pulled over. The ANPR system queries a bunch of databases in real time to do this.

What I really don't like is that more than likely the police car's system records the numberplates it sees, but it will no doubt also record the police car's location (from GPS), the direction the police car was going, and the time/date. With this data, along with the static ANPR data, is spelling the end of private travel by car in the UK.

Numberplates over here are pretty standardised, so I guess ANPR is relatively easy to implement compared to facial recognition. But I bet as soon as facial recognition is even slightly reliable it will be retro fitted to everything it can be. Though thinking about it, even if facial recognition doesn't work fully yet it would still be possible to record faces along with location+date+time. Google's streetview is able to tell what a face is, so there isn't much to stop similar happening through a CCTV network. And once facial recognition is reliable the existing data can be run through the system.

When I got a new passport a year or 2 ago, I had a new photo taken and I got the shop to save the photo onto a USB stick. From now on I will be submitting the same photo whenever a photo is needed for something.... at some point I need to get a new driving licence as I still have my 10+ year old paper one even though plastic licences with a photo have been standard for probably 9 years. When I got the photo done I hadn't had a haircut or shave for 6 months either, and I read all the rules about passport photos - black and white photos are still allowed! So my RFID passport has a picture in it that looks like it was taken in the mid-70s! Passport control at Gatwick airport didn't seem too bothered when I used it there, once I said "don't worry mate, it is me".

Re:Fighting the wrong battle (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667261)

The reason you're told not to smile is because the P.R. software has a harder time dealing with it - same with glasses wearers.

So if I want to go blow something up, and not get picked up, all I have to do is smile?

Re:Fighting the wrong battle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667599)

You don't have this in the USA? Waaaay to go. Thanks to the new telecommunications data retention laws in the EU this it will become possible ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommunications_data_retention#European_Union [wikipedia.org] ) to track every single EU citiziens life 6 months to 2 years (depending on the home countries implementation of the law) into the past.

If you carry around a cellphone or use any other kind of communcations device your positional data will be saved. And just to prevent any misunderstandings, this data is saved for anybody, no need to be suspicions.

Re:Fighting the wrong battle (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666777)

Actually, fears will never come to pass until the technology doesn't exist. Then, you have the problem of new technologies replacing it and the fears associated with it with new ones. This keeps going until the fears happen. So, it's probably wise to have the fears and keep them from becoming than to do nothing.

Gosh... (3, Funny)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666703)

If only these same people who secured my passport were in charge of my healthcare as well, then everything would be great!

Re:Gosh... (3, Insightful)

Atmchicago (555403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666855)

[sarcasm]Yes, heaven forbid the United States catch up with the rest of the developed world and get a system that works better [photius.com] while costing less [photius.com] .[/sarcasm] Passport security and health systems have nothing to do with each other, please let you brain do the thinking, not your mouth or your gut.

Re:Gosh... (4, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666879)

The U.S. doesn't make any passing attempt at running an efficient health care system. For people that can afford it, spectacular care is available here.

So the well off have plenty to fear from government intervention, they face the potential for higher taxes and the potential for lower availability of care (vast amounts are spent on extreme measures in the U.S.).

Sure, it would probably be healthier for us as a society to provide a more equitable system, but let's not pretend that it is going to be better for everyone.

Yes and no (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667025)

I live in Finland and we do have a public healthcare system here. That doesn't mean that here wouldn't also be private healthcare available. Those who dislike the public system (which works pretty well but is underfunded so waiting lines can be hours long in any non non-emergency case) can go to the private clinics. In addition to competing with each other, private clinics also need to compete with the public health care. It sets some kind of a status quo of "If you don't manage to offer extremely good service, people will just use public healthcare".

So I don't think that the wealthy do need to worry about potential for lower availability of care. Public healthcare just gives best of both worlds... In theory.

Recently (within the past decade) right wing government has been trying to change the way that public healthcare works here. Instead of having doctors who work for the government they try to have government buy services from private companies. In practice this works horribly.

Government buys from the company that offers services for cheapest but that lowers the quality. And even those companies have higher prices than what government would pay directly to the doctors as the companies try to make profit. So it is slowly changing from "The best of both worlds" to "The worst of both worlds".

One example of this is a hospital near me (Peijas in Itä-Vantaa). It used to be managed by the government but then there was a decision to privatize (if that's a word) the emergency duty. Now, if you go there complaining that your chest hurts, you might still need to wait four hours in the lobby before a doctor sees you but if they deem that you need further care and send you to the main part of the hospital... You get EKGs taken, evaluations from several doctors and so on, all for completely free of charge. (Speaking from experience here.)

So even with the "worst of both worlds" it works somehow (which is good because I really couldn't have been able to afford the treatments in a private clinic). I just fear what happens if the rest of the hospital services will be bought from private companies too.

Public healthcare can be done very well or very poorly depending on how it is implemented.

As for taxation... Yeah, it raises. Can't deny you there. As a rather decently earning programmer I pay nearly half of my wage as taxes (then again, that is more than free healthcare. It includes, among other things, that government funded my university education and insured my student loan). You are wrong to assume it will hurt the wealthy, though. It uses the people who don't use the services.

Whether you are wealthy or not, having higher taxes that provide services that you use are fine. Higher taxes hurt those who rarely have to visit a doctor, they hurt those who don't go to an university and so on. Others would have had to pay that money anyways, it just wouldn't have gone to government but directly to the private companies that provide the services. And the result might not have been any better.

Re:Yes and no (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667067)

So if government is paying for your education why do you have a student loan?

For myself personally I'd rather get taxed at 25% rather than 50% and be able to choose my health care.

Re:Yes and no (1)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667105)

Only problem is, if you ever need something major like a new kidney or whatever you'd better hope you've got that 25% of your income you weren't taxed for the last 10 years sitting in hand, or you might be in some trouble.

You pay for other's poor choices as it is (1)

Atmchicago (555403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667129)

Exactly. It's sad to say, but most people are too stupid to save up for the right things. They'd rather buy that new HD television now than worry about their broken leg five years from now. A public health care system increases preventative care (which is cheaper and more effective) and is a way to force people to save for emergencies, rather than going to the emergency room. So if you're smart enough to know how to manage your health, just be glad not as many of your tax dollars will be going to idiots in the ER anymore.

I'd much rather have the choice of health care plan (as Obama intends) and pay less overall.

Re:Yes and no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667117)

I am not the same AC as the GP, but I can probarly answer the question. Here in Norway we also have free education (on all levels), but I still need a student loan, as I can't survive soly on knowledge and love.

We get 40% as a schoolarship (if we pass exam), and 60% as a loan.
Those money are needed to pay for rent and food but school is, as I said, free.

After a 3 year education I have ~150k NOK in debt. To put that in perspective a avrage yearly salary for a beginning level programmer is ~400k NOK.

Re:Yes and no (2, Insightful)

Hillman (137883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667141)

Well, if it's like in Québec, we still have to pay for college. It's very subsidized, so we pay a little less than 2k$ a year. The loans are there so you can concentrate on your studies instead of working full time. Most people will work part time though.

And we can choose our health care. The only difference is that the doctors are paid by the state instead of by me. Only my doctor can make health care decisions, not a faceless bureaucrat or a CS rep from an HMO. And because there's no administrative overhead(about 1% instead of 30% in the USA) it's less expensive.

But I won't lie to you, if you have the sniffles and go to an emergency room, you're gonna wait a long time. You should go to a clinic(free also) for these minor conditions.

English second language here, so don't mind the grammar/spelling....

Re:Gosh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667181)

It's fuckheads like you that are the problem, shit stain. Why do you assume national health care here would automatically be great? Can you even see the difference in situations? Can you even see one billionth of the complexity of thew issue? Are you even following the process that's currently in motion, and seeing how slapdash it is? Or are your ideological filters so clogged up that objective reality is just a distant glow for you now? Why can't losers like you just drop dead?

Re:Gosh... (2, Interesting)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667003)

truly spectacular care is in Europe these days, sadly the US healthcare system has defeated itself due to the cost of doing business here for most physicians. What America has is the _perception_ of good healthcare, however, just because sombody has a specialist for every ailment doesn't mean they're getting remotely good healthcare. in the US there are typically around 12 Doctors involved in the average Americans healthcare. have you ever been to a doctors office? do you know how busy- especially a decent specialist- is? do you think any of them really know _any_ of their patients well from a physicians standpoint? more to the point, do you think these doctors actually communicate? i know theres a lot of citation needed for a post like that but i'm too burned out on the issue to gather the facts, having worked in the medical field as a healthcare professional for a while i've seen firsthand the fiasco that is the US heathcare system. sorry folks, you arent getting "the best healthcare in the world" not even close. in fact

http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html [photius.com]

the US fares pretty abysmally.

while its true the above WHO report does have a slight bias to social medicine due to cost being factored in (which isnt a bad thing) there is no denying that the outcomes for patients in the US are certainly not world class.

hmmm... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667099)

If only these same people who secured my passport were in charge of my healthcare as well, then everything would be great!

We live in a country that is protected by a military funded by the government
If my house is on fire, the fire is managed by a fire department funded by the government
Law enforcement is provided by a police or sheriff's department funded by the government
I drive to work on roads whose maintenance are funded by the government
I was educated at public schools funded by the government

(just to name a few government services that are entitled to US citizens) If you would rather not have any of those services, there may be countries on other continents where you can opt to not have them. But these are all different departments of government; why you would assume that any of them - or the department in charge of passports - would be connected to a health care system that hasn't even been proposed is beyond me.

Re:hmmm... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667203)

We live in a country who's military funded by the federal government "protects" other countries.

If my house is on fire, the fire is managed by a fire department funded by my municipal government

Law enforcement is provided by a police or sheriff's department funded by my city or county government

I drive to work on roads whose maintenance are funded by my county or state government

I was educated at public schools funded by my county and state government

Fixed that for you.

Re:hmmm... (0, Flamebait)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667649)

We live in a country who's military funded by the federal government "protects" other countries.

If my house is on fire, the fire is managed by a fire department funded by my municipal government

Law enforcement is provided by a police or sheriff's department funded by my city or county government

I drive to work on roads whose maintenance are funded by my county or state government

I was educated at public schools funded by my county and state government

Fixed that for you.

Idiot. All those things are funded by YOUR TAXES. You think "the government" has like a night-stocking job at Wal-mart to earn the cash it spends?

Re:hmmm... (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667345)

If only these same people who secured my passport were in charge of my healthcare as well, then everything would be great!

We live in a country that is protected by a military funded by the government
If my house is on fire, the fire is managed by a fire department funded by the government
Law enforcement is provided by a police or sheriff's department funded by the government
I drive to work on roads whose maintenance are funded by the government
I was educated at public schools funded by the government

(just to name a few government services that are entitled to US citizens) If you would rather not have any of those services, there may be countries on other continents where you can opt to not have them. But these are all different departments of government; why you would assume that any of them - or the department in charge of passports - would be connected to a health care system that hasn't even been proposed is beyond me.

First, I think you're confusing terms here. Some of those things you mention are mandated by the Constitution as *duties* of the *federal* government, and not "entitlements".

Next, there are the various things you mentioned that are either duties or services provided by local, state, county, or city government which is under more direct control of the local population. Many of those same things are also paid for, and their permissions for the taxes to pay for them, given (or not) by the local populace.

A universal health plan (at least the ones being considered) are all federal programs, the same kind of federal program as FEMA or Freddie Mac/Fannie May. Imagine how well FEMA did with water distribution in the 'Dome in the aftermath of Katrina, or at how well Fannie May/Freddie Mac were run.

These are the same type people, and in many cases would be some of the same people (think Congressmen & high-level departmental bureaucrats) that would be in charge of designing and operating a universal health system.

It will simply be used as a way to drain even more money from the economy for the government to spend and expand it's power and reach, and also as another vector to exert control over the populace.

Strat

Legislators have no idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666719)

Politicians have zero education, training in IT, they will buy into ideas pitched by lobbyists in order to secure rich government contracts for certain businesses.

Cruising for what???? (1)

iMac Were (911261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666739)

When I cruise around the docks I'm looking for something that has 69 in it, but I'm not interested in passport numbers.

Surveillance could be the least of our worries... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666767)

radio-tagged IDs have the potential to allow "widespread surveillance of individuals"

Worse still, if it can be read once, it could be read twice, for instance to trigger their assassination e.g. with a bomb that would identify its targets based on the RFID (of the passport or any other of their belongings [spychips.com] ).

Moreover, remote-readable IDs could make it easier e.g. for kidnappers to single out the most promising victims from a crowd.
What obstacle would stop determined attackers from getting their hands on this kind of technology? Bigger and more thoroughly guarded things than simple hand-held radio tag scanners are probably being stolen from airports every day.

Poor encryption (3, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666779)

Passports use BAC [wikipedia.org] encryption, which is obviously pretty weak.

Re:Poor encryption (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666881)

Sorry to reply to my own post. The article only says:

Zipping past Fisherman's Wharf, his scanner detected, then downloaded to his laptop, the unique serial numbers of two pedestrians' electronic U.S. passport cards
So all he got was serial numbers? meh.

Re:Poor encryption (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667009)

Unless I misread something, the serial number is all that is on the RFID chip.

I guess the supposed advantage of the chip is that it is harder to forge than a barcode or printed number, but it doesn't seem worth it if it can automatically be identified 20 feet away (it doesn't increase risk an enormous amount for most people, but it increases it a little, with no apparent gain).

WHAT!? (2, Funny)

anonieuweling (536832) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666781)

You mean that RFID actually works!?


Yes, but do we really need it in passports and identification cards?

Re:WHAT!? (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667167)

You mean that RFID actually works!? Yes, but do we really need it in passports and identification cards?

Might help me find mine.

thats not a warning... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666793)

thats a endorsement for continual increase in use.

I wonder how long it will take before credit companies, homeland security and other rfid pushers join forces to create a implantable credit card/passport/whatever-service-you-can-think-of rfid chip. For your own protection and convenience, honest...

Re:thats not a warning... (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667537)

According to the Bible, it's inevitable... [biblegateway.com]

hurf durf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666865)

Just wrap it in tinfoil or brass screen.

Passport RFID borders on criminal negligence IMHO (4, Interesting)

cheros (223479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666883)

I cannot imagine that even a SINGLE conversation with someone mildly conversant in basic security, no, just having common sense, would not have indicated that uncontrolled ID reading from a distance was a VERY VERY bad idea. It suggests to me that such a conversation was either not had, someone has a LOT of shares in RFID manufacturing or there is something else behind this rush to promote even more ID theft.

You can read ID from a distance which means it's now possible to create hidden bombs that lie dormant until there are enough people of a certain nationality nearby, it's possible to clone an identity and I suspect it won't be long before you can edit the biometric, making the theft of your LIFE complete because of "the 'pjuter is always rite" syndrome.

In the process other associated idiots are building up databases which are unnecessary (it works prefectly without) and which are a reversal of approach - normally your identity is only collected AFTER you have committed a crime, not BEFORE. You're now guilty until you prove it wasn't you who left a cloned identity behind. All of that without you noticing someone has been near to your passport, you no longer have control over who sees the data. Hello girls, welcome to stalking v2.

Actually, if you want political emotional scare stories, as the EU has now made one passport per person mandatory, it's also "Hello kids, welcome to 'brief your local paedophile'".

It would be really good if the clowns who dream up such stuff would be the first to suffer the consequences, all of them. Because I don't think they will learn otherwise - this is causing risk, not fixing identity issues. /rant

Re:Passport RFID borders on criminal negligence IM (3, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666929)

The cards discussed in this article strictly provide a number, so they are just being used as a glorified barcode (maybe they have some security features that a barcode doesn't, but the guy scanning the numbers already knows how to bypass them, so they are irrelevant); a barcode is just as easy to link to a government database and introduces all the same problems with securing the database, so the only additional threat created by the RFID here is the ability to track the person holding the card (leakage of identity info is the same with a barcode, and there are no biometrics to edit on the card).

Still, it doesn't seem like the chip adds anything, and it certainly sucks for people to be able to automatically identify the card (not the person, just the card) at a distance.

Mine is inside... (1)

Kindaian (577374) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666965)

The anti-rfid wallet... ;)

Big Brother Concerns? (3, Insightful)

madsheep (984404) | more than 5 years ago | (#28666967)

Well I am completely against the apparent weak encryption and their lack of shielding but I think the big brother concerns are a little overblown. I don't think this is part of some massive systems to track us. Unless the U.S. is setting up this massive trackng network on cruise ships and all over foreign countries... I don't think it will suck in much.. unless of course they enjoy getting receiving data from my passport that always reports that I am 1) at home or 2) on my way to the airport. Seriously.. what U.S. citizen carries their passport everywhere they go domestically?

Re:Big Brother Concerns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28666989)

I bet they would be interested to know if you were on your way to the airport to flee the country.

Re:Big Brother Concerns? (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667419)

Driver's licenses are next. Unless someone has a better explanation for the purpose of passport transmitters, I'd say they are a deliberate step on the slippery slope. "Passport" gets people thinking about foreigners and terrorists and planes!...and then hell, you might as well put them in other ID too. The next step of implanting the tags won't even be necessary, since the occasional camera can compare your face to the database to see if your ID is false.

Either that or they're working on satellite tracking to monitor citizens' foreign movements.

I wonder.. (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667081)

If these were passports or passport cards ? .. Most people here don't carry their passport around with them all the time.. However those new cheapo passport cards (for Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda) are much smaller and more portable and I can see people keeping them in their wallet.

I realize that both are vulnerable.. Sadly I have to get a passport renewal in 2010, and not looking forward to having a chipped one. I'll be getting the full one again (can see the point in limiting travel possibilities) .. I wonder what percentage of passports are the cheaper one ?

Re:I wonder.. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667221)

Your question is answered right in the summary. Clearly even.

Re:I wonder.. (1)

anonieuweling (536832) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667411)

Some people do carry passports and ID-whatever around all the time.
Some are concerned with the lack of care taken while implementing what others wanted.
Why not distribute tin-foil envelopes?

Here, let me fix that for you (3, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667145)

Meanwhile, Homeland Security has been promoting broad use of RFID because its own advisory committee on data integrity and privacy warned that radio-tagged IDs have the potential to allow "widespread surveillance of individuals" without their knowledge or consent.

Fixed.

Ummm...your cellphone... (1)

bartwol (117819) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667289)

So if I can get my RF scanning equipment within 20 feet of you, I can get the passport office's unique identifier for you. (Where can I use that identifier besides the passport office?) As a tracking strategy, one scanning device every 20 feet is going to be an expensive grid.

Good thing the whole country's already wired for cellphone service and service providers share connectivity in support of roaming. Lord knows how many people can track your whereabouts right now.

Oops...I left my passport at home today.

Slashdot...if it's technical, it must be stuff that matters?

Guess RFID was a dumb choice for passports (1)

physburn (1095481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667321)

The designers should have known, and any RFID system, can be read without the owner knowing it, making it a security risk. Bad choice of technology from the outset.

--

Privacy vs Surveillance [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

Okay.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667415)

It says it grabbed the "Serial number" - not all the passport information.
Is the serial number even the same thing as the passport number, or is it just the serial number of the RFID chip?

Is that even necessarily a passport? Could it be something else using similar RFID technology they picked up?

Removal/blocking (1)

moxley (895517) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667421)

I need to get a passport soon, but this issue kind of concerns me - people who think those of us who are concerned are being overly paranoid just don't get it - just because there isn't anything disturbing happening with these things right now at this moment (that we know of) doesn't mean that we know things will remain copacetic in the future...Once the apparatus for widespread monitoring/tracking is in place, it's in place - it isn't a good or a bad thing, it's a tool that can be used in either manner.

I have heard about RFID shields, but have heard various concerns about their effectiveness.

I am wondering how these passports are actually constructed. Could the tag be removed when you don't want it there and re-inserted when you need it there?

Then again, some people may feel it's stupid to worry about such a thing when you carry a cell phone that has a GPS chip in it, and there may be some truth to that; only, my cell phone can be turned off and doesn't come directly from a government and it's not mandated that I carry it for identification when I travel internationally..

tourists (1)

4d3fect (1023141) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667463)

Yet another reason --as if you NEEDED another reason-- to stay out of that hellhole.

Sell them with the sheath (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28667689)

Would it be all that hard for the US government to raise the price $5 and include a blocking sheath?

Easy fix (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667701)

Wrap your passport in aluminium foil.
Just do not walk thru the metal detector with that. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjXkOplqrWo)

'even though' should read 'because' (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28667743)

"Meanwhile, Homeland Security has been promoting broad use of RFID even though its own advisory committee on data integrity and privacy warned that radio-tagged IDs have the potential to allow "widespread surveillance of individuals" without their knowledge or consent." -> 'even though'?! Should read 'because'.

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