Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Who gives a WHTI where you are right at this moment?

Here's your choice, America:

Is it worse that the government and corporations want ever-increasing panoptic monitoring and data-gathering programs directed at all of us?

Or that, once they get this information in hand, they have absolutely no idea how to keep it secure?

Chris Paget just did you a service by hacking your passport and stealing your identity. Using a $250 Motorola RFID reader and antenna connected to his laptop, Chris recently drove around San Francisco reading RFID tags from passports, driver licenses, and other identity documents. In just 20 minutes, he found and cloned the passports of two very unaware US citizens. Fortunately, Chris wears a white hat; his video demonstration is meant to raise awareness to what he calls the unsuitability of RFID for tagging people. Specifically, he's hoping to help get the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative -- a homeland security project -- scrapped.

At least the members of the Party, servants of Orwell's fictitious Big Brother, had the simple professional self-respect to keep their files secure from every pony-tailed hacker with a compact car and a laptop. (Although their technology was comparatively primative--the Ministry of Peace could only dream about tagging us like migratory waterfowl.)

Never heard of WHTI, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative? You might want to read here (especially the part about the Passport Card) before they have a chance to hear about you.

(Hat tip to AmericaBlog, although to quibble about titles, I think the problem is less about someone stealing your passport, per se, than it's about someone electronically tracking you to every business, meeting, or residence you go to.)

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