New Passport: no more privacy ?

So this week our lovely country has switched to passports with embedded chips. These chips store a photograph and basic personal details about the holder of the passport. Some time in the future the chip wil also hold fingerprint-data about the holder. As stated in this article the data in the chip can be read by a € 1500 reader.

According to Rob Vermeulen, private detective: “Everyone working with aliens would require one of these readers, for example hotels, bars and work-agencies”. Can anyone care to explain to me why a bar would have to check the ‘electronic’ data on my passport. The only thing a bar needs to know about me is that I am of legal drinking age, which in my case is clearly visible with the naked eye. In cases where this isn’t so easy it should be sufficient to ask for a visual inspection of the ID (either drivers license, passport or otherwise).

Also, for at least the next 10 years we will be having old-fashioned non-chip-equipped passports around, so for a long time to come this will not hold back any counterfeit passports, since they only have to cater to the lower common denominator. And passports from other european countries are also considered ‘valid’, with some countries having very relaxed passport security in comparison to ours.

I foresee major issues with these electronic passports with unsecure and unneeded storage of data from scanned passports. Expect a few major headlines the coming years where large amounts of data leak or get stolen from various points where this data is stored. Airports, borders, private companies (employers, job-agencies) and local and regional government offices.

I’m up for a new passport and drivers license next year… and I’m not particularly happy about it…

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3 thoughts on “New Passport: no more privacy ?”

  1. I think you are overreacting a bit. Let me explain why. First of all, you have the choice of not letting your passport be read. The reason why bars etc. should have one is so there can be no misunderstanding about how the data on the passport is interpreted. Next to that, it’s really easy this way to see if the passport has been tampered with, since the chip is (I hope) untamperable with. Secondly, the chip is not RFID. This means it’s really, really hard for other people to read your passport without you knowing it. They’d have to be able to touch the passport physically to read the chip, which would be quite useless, because now you would actually be able to read the pages anyway. Recap: the chip is only useful to verify the printed data on the passport itself and it’s supposedly hacker-proof (i.e. the data on the chip is unchangable). — macTijn 

  2. some more commenting:  I agree with the unneeded storage thing, this is indeed a concern, and it’s possible implications should be taken extremely serious, and possible storage should be lawfully restricted or forbidden. By the way, the chip-in-pass has to start some time… you can’t recall ~12 million passports just because you want to place a chip in it; this would cost a lot of money, which will be your tax raise. Also, it is not always possible to determine by eye if someone’s of a specific age… a really strict (and stupid, but completely explainable) example would be this: boy is 17 years of age, turning 18 tomorrow boy goes into liquor store, buys some hard licquor, and because the clerk does not verify the age of the boy, the store is now eligable to lose their licquor license. just my 2 cents, macTijn

  3. Actually, I’d vote that we start working on a quick-n-reliable way of doing DNA checks. Much more reliable than the whole easy-to-fake passport deal. Photographs have proven unreliable anyway. Who cares if they’re stored digitally? Just find someone who looks remotely like you and steal their passport. I know I’ve found my lookalike.. Now all I have to do is break into the dressing room of Lordi.

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