Mar 10 2009

DHS considering hackable long-range RFID as “alternative” to REAL-ID

Chris Strohm of the National Journal’s CongressDaily reports:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona, said Monday that her office is participating in a working group established by the National Governors Association to review the so-called Real ID law, which Congress passed in 2005 while under Republican control.

“What they’re looking at is whether statutory changes need to be made to Real ID,” Napolitano said after a speech to Homeland Security employees marking the sixth anniversary of the department’s creation.

“They are looking at whether some version of an enhanced driver’s license that perhaps creates options for states would be feasible. They’re looking at what the fiscal impact would be particularly given that states have no money right now,” she added.

“I would expect that over the course of the spring we’ll be rolling something out,” she said.

So-called “enhanced” drivers licenses, already being issued in Washington and Vermont, contain a remotely-readable long-range (“vicinity”) RFID chip, in violation of ICAO international standards for only shorter-range RFID chips in travel documents, with a globally unique identification number to permit anyone within range to track the card or the movements of the person carrying it.  Hackers have already demonstrated, in on-camera real-world tests on the streets of San Francisco, that these enhanced drivers licences and the passport cards that use the same type of RFID chips have succeeded in their design goal of being readable from inside or outside a moving car as it passes by.

This is no “solution” to the problems of the REAL-ID Act, and no improvement.

As we’ve argued in our proposals to the administration and Congress, the only solution to REAL-ID is repeal.  Until Congress takes that essential action, states and citizens should continue their refusal to comply with REAL-ID.

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