ACLU concerned that microchip passports won't be encrypted

R.A. Hettinga rah at
Sat Nov 27 10:43:15 EST 2004


The Indianapolis Star

ACLU concerned that microchip passports won't be encrypted

Associated Press
November 27, 2004

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration opposes security measures for new
microchip-equipped passports that privacy advocates contend are needed to
prevent identity theft, government snooping or a terrorist attack,
according to State Department documents released Friday.

The passports would emit radio waves that could be read electronically from
as far away as 30 feet, according to the American Civil Liberties Union,
which obtained the documents under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The ability to remotely read personal data raises the possibility that
passport holders would be vulnerable to identity theft, the ACLU said. It
also would allow government agents to find out covertly who was attending a
political meeting or make it easier for terrorists to target Americans
traveling abroad, the ACLU said.

Frank Moss of the State Department said the United States wants to ensure
the safety and security of Americans traveling abroad. But encrypting the
data might make it more difficult for other countries to read the
passports, Moss said.

All new U.S. passports issued by the end of 2005 are expected to have a
chip containing the owner's name, birth date, issuing office and a
"biometric" identifier -- a photo of the owner's face.
R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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