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American Passports to Have RFID Chips 668

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the big-brother-and-the-watchmen dept.
pr1000 writes "Wired is reporting that the State Department is planned on adding RFID chips to new American passports, starting with diplomat's passports in January. Those worried about the privacy concerns of RFID should take notice, as this rollout could set a precedent."
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American Passports to Have RFID Chips

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  • Law Enforcement (Score:1, Insightful)

    by nwmakel (816545) on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:12AM (#10596352)
    Privacy issues aside, this could come in incredibly handy for those travelling abroad and being robbed. Much too often tourists are burgled of all their stuff, including passport, if the passport could be located, so might their other stuff including the thief.
  • by kentmartin (244833) * on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:17AM (#10596379) Homepage
    Let me get this straight. Assume I am a bad guy. If I want to find an American overseas - particularly in a country where carrying a passport is mandatory, how am I going to go about it?

    To take it one step further, if I am wifi'd into a database somehow, I can even do a few smarts and identify a "better" target (wealthier, public figure etc).

    I carry an Australian passport and it will not shock me when "the Clever Country" bends over and does what the Americans do - yet again!
  • One for the locals (Score:2, Insightful)

    by malsdavis (542216) on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:20AM (#10596391)
    Local tourist sales people will love it. Imagine how good it would be for them if they could get hold a machine that could locate nearby Americna tourists alowing them to approach them first before the hundreds of other "you want cheap watch?" sellers.
  • Re:ID... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tjebbe (36955) on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:20AM (#10596393) Homepage
    The difference is that with current passports, you have to show it, which has to be asked, and which you can refuse, so you have the ability to choose to accept the consequences of not showing your passport. With rfid tags it can be done without you even knowing it, and thus without you agreeing to.
  • by mrjb (547783) on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:20AM (#10596397)
    When you show your passport at the airport or as means of identification at a bank, for instance, the same privacy issues arise, RFID or not.

    Sure, RFID can be read from a distance, but many of us seem sooooo worried about RFID and yet happily keep carrying a mobile phone, willingly pay by card or withdraw money from an ATM, and get in view of security cameras. No tinfoil hat is going to protect against that.

    If there are privacy issues, it is because someone decides to abuse the technology, RFID or not.

    If you want privacy, pay cash only, stay home, don't use phones, and don't do anything that requires identifying yourself.
  • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by macaulay805 (823467) on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:21AM (#10596399) Homepage Journal
    Sure, today its passports. Tomorrow its ID Cards/Drivers License, then the day after that its implants.

    One step at a time to take away anonymity and freedom. Kind of like the PATRIOT act. "In times of need, we will mandate the tracking process of people using RFID enabled cards."

    There is also the fact, that people outside the US can spoof the RFID system and, *BAM*, lets make counterfeit stuff, or better yet, lets track where they are going and sell their information to marketers.

    If we want to be left alone, we can not broadcast our information to the very public we want to keep away from.

    Or maybe I should wake up before I start posting to ./ about these issues. My 2 cents.
  • Re:ID... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:21AM (#10596401) Homepage Journal
    But you get to choose who to show your passport to. Anyone can read RFID information, as long as they can get reasonably close to you.
  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:26AM (#10596418) Journal
    From the article:
    Security experts said the U.S. government decided not to encrypt the data because of the risks involved in sharing the method of decryption with other countries.

    And those very same security "experts" obviously don't know that there are methods for secure encryption known throughout the world even now? You don't need to be an expert to know that!

    And no, I can't see any other explanation. It cannot be the possibility of unallowed reading of the data: That's even easier if the data isn't encrypted at all. And it cannot be the possibility of making forged passports: Having data not encrypted makes this not any harder than having it encrypted with a known encryption.

    Even in the worst case scenario, when the decryption key was made public by some other state, the situation couldn't get worse than without any encryption at all. Of course, the USA could just decide not to give the key (or any specification at all) to countries they don't trust. Those countries would then just have to do what they do now: Rely on the non-RFID portion of the passport (which is currently all that is in a passport).

    So there is really no excuse to store unencrypted data on the RFID chip.
  • by Zork the Almighty (599344) on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:40AM (#10596479) Journal
    Or think of it this way. Now the extremists will know exactly who to kidnap, or where best to strike with their suicide bombs! Feel the security!
  • by RotHorseKid (239899) on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:45AM (#10596496) Homepage
    Does anyone else smell a business opportunity for Radio-shielded passport sleeves?

  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:55AM (#10596530) Journal
    Whereas I think the addition of RFID chips to passports is simply another incremental step, and passports are in fact there to identify you anyway, if you take a step back and read your last paragraph
    If you want privacy, pay cash only, stay home, don't use phones, and don't do anything that requires identifying yourself.
    What part of that is 'freedom' ? When did the USA go from 'the land of the free' to the 'spy on me any which way you want' ?

    Hell, it's your country, your politics, your ideals, and your decision; I don't really care - it's mainly a curiosity for me that sociological values can change so rapidly.

    I've just obtained a visa for the US, and had to give my fingerprints - I was curiously antagonistic towards this, and again it's nothing more than another incremental step. After thinking about it for a while I realised it's nothing to do with privacy, it's that I mentally associate being fingerprinted with being a criminal.

    I felt I'd been judged and summarily convicted of something (what, I don't know, being an alien perhaps). As a reasonably law-abiding citizen (ok, I admit I sometimes exceed the speed limit on a motorway :-) it offended me at some deep level mainly because of that association - you *never* have to give fingerprints in the UK unless you've been caught breaking the law... Of course if "Stalin" Blunkett gets his way, that will all change...

    Simon.
  • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Friday October 22, 2004 @06:57AM (#10596538) Homepage
    If the range is not that far, why the concern about being tracked?
    What do you bet that there won't be some clever person in the next ten years that figures out how to build an ultra-sensitive focussed RFID reader that reads tags at a distance?
  • Re:spoof (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dildo (250211) on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:02AM (#10596551)
    There are two simpler ways to do this that do not require burning out your chip.


    1. RSA Blocker Tag [rsasecurity.com]

    2. Tinfoil cover

    3. Faraday cage purse.


    There is no money in discovering RFID blocking devices. There is a possible market in creating a cheap RFID detector.

  • by gerddie (173963) on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:02AM (#10596555)
    Revelation 13 (16-17)
    And it causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark on their right hand, or in their foreheads, even that not any might buy or sell except those having the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of its name.

    The bible always makes a good reading - not that I am a beliver, or so.
  • Re:Bring It On. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:03AM (#10596561)
    "I'm fed up with having to produce many bits of paper just to prove who I am"

    They you should be opposing the 'identity' culture, not supporting it.

    These chips will do nothing to make people safer (they'll be no harder to forge than current passports), but will certainly make some people less safe by broadcasting their information to anyone with an RFID reader.
  • Cool! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by existenzmaximum (689512) on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:03AM (#10596562)
    Security at last! Just look at the chances for Terrorists! How about scanning the RFID of someone's passport and placing a bomb connected with a programmed RFID-Reader somewhere. As soon as he walks by... *bang* 100% failsafe, absolut secure.. Oh, the irony...
  • by mrjb (547783) on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:18AM (#10596613)
    > You CANNOT choose who scans for RFID tags

    This would be the main problem, because tracing people with or without RFID is still perfectly possible. What I'm saying is that choice is limited, regardless of RFID - yes, you can switch off your phone, but it won't be of much use then.

    Ever travelled abroad with a passport (without RFID)? You better believe that it was registered when you passed the border. RFID doesn't change that.

    As for the main problem, '*anyone* being able to scan you' rather than just the government, most likely the main result is getting more spam. 'Welcome back mr Yakamoto', Minority-report style. Otherwise, laws against stalking are already in place.

    What bothers me more already happens anyway nowadays. Days after my phone connection was activated, I was called by three different newspapers for a subscription. I doubt that those newspapers found out by themselves, so my private information must have been given to them by the phone company. Where was my choice in that?

    We live in a grim world indeed.
  • Re:Bruce Schneier (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stoney27 (36372) * on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:22AM (#10596629) Homepage
    He had some great points about why the Bush Government would want this.

    My first question is there a way I could make/buy a shield that mask the RFID signal? I can see a case like I have my palm in that would shield my passport until I gave it to the Custom Agent.

    I wonder it my new passport will have this I just sent in my renewal paperwork...

    -S
  • by Advocadus Diaboli (323784) on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:24AM (#10596633)
    Sorry for the "stupid" question in the subject line, but so far I (as an European citizen) was told that the USA is a democratic system. So I guess that the US citizens should be able to express their discomfort about RFID tagging in the upcoming elections. Just a thought of a naive European...
  • by commodoresloat (172735) on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:31AM (#10596671)
    It does seem like the solution here is not to say "no RFIDs in the passports", but actually to ensure that there is a way to easily control when the tag is read. And there seem to be several solutions available.

    Yes; there's a solution called the "bar code," and it doesn't require any damned RF technology. Why bother using RFID if it isn't to be able to read the thing at a distance? If you're going to have to take it out of the pouch to deliver the information, they might as well have to run a barcode scanner over it as well.

  • Re:Tracking... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:33AM (#10596681)
    I recently returned to the US from a trip abroad. I have to say that the treatment that I saw of people trying to enter the country was horid. The line they were waiting in was at hours long, and the scrutiny could at the very least be described as extensive. What I think we American's don't appreciate is that if we make it a complete pain in the ass to come here to visit and do business, people will take their money elsewhere. If I knew I was going to get a cattle prod on my vacation, I think I would pick a new place to tour.

    Welcome to Bush country, please supply your own brown shirt.
  • Re:ID... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tjebbe (36955) on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:33AM (#10596682) Homepage
    Of course, when asked by a policeman or customs official, IF there is cause to ask you. I have absolutely no right to ask you to show your id just to respond to this message for instance.

    The day that you will be detained when you refuse to show your passport while buying a certain newspaper for instance will be a very grim day...
  • Re:ID... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xoro (201854) on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:40AM (#10596715)

    If you refuse to show it, you're detained. Then, they open up your wallet/purse and look. All you did was delay everyone somewhat and create trouble for yourself with no real difference between they're waving you over or pointing a device.

    Oh really? If you refuse to show it at the hotel? In the cab? In a restaurant? At the movie theater? There is no technical reason anyone can't set up a reader anywhere they want to snoop.

    When I travel, my passport never leaves me. It's such a comfort to know it will be singing out my name, age, photo and home address to anyone who's curious. I feel safer already.

  • Re:Bruce Schneier (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) * on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:44AM (#10596730)
    Ok you wait in line to have your passport checked. I will happily go threw the reader with my passport safely on my person. With a little green light that says it is OK for me to enter the US or even other countries.
  • Re:Bruce Schneier (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoney27 (36372) * on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:56AM (#10596781) Homepage
    Ok you wait in line to have your passport checked. I will happily go threw the reader with my passport safely on my person. With a little green light that says it is OK for me to enter the US or even other countries.


    Of course nothing stopping me from walking up to the reader and opening my shielded case and walking through.

    But while you walk around with a non shield RFID the CIA will know exactly who you are and able to add notes to your passport with out your knowledge.
    -S
  • by reallocate (142797) on Friday October 22, 2004 @07:59AM (#10596794)
    Let's see...I use my credit card to buy a two-week tour package to Europe. The package includes airline reservations, hotel and restaurant reservations, a seat on a tour bus, and tickets to a couple of London shows. How's an RFID chip going to affect my privacy?

    BTW, it's an especially good idea to add the chip to diplomatic passports. Passports can be, and are, counterfeited, so the chip will help to ensure authenticity.
  • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:2, Insightful)

    by clone22 (252516) on Friday October 22, 2004 @08:12AM (#10596846)
    You're almost there. RFID is a good anti-forgery measure. The serial number on the chip must show up in the passport database. Also, when the passport is issued the photo can be stored digitally, making it easy to authenticate the stored photo against the photo on the passport.

  • by forii (49445) on Friday October 22, 2004 @08:14AM (#10596865)
    I simply told him, "Stay on this train for about 4 hours, and it will reach manchester!"

    What i didnt tell him, was the train in concern is the "Circle Line" which simply runs around london in a loop!!!!! {EVIL GRIN}


    So rather than inform an obvious newcomer to your country of this fact, you instead took the chance to be an asshole. And your country is better...how?
  • by ViolentGreen (704134) on Friday October 22, 2004 @08:16AM (#10596877)
    Well I'd rather deal with a loudmouth, annoying texan who at least has good intentions then someone like you.
  • Re:Law Enforcement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd@@@harrelsonfamily...org> on Friday October 22, 2004 @08:25AM (#10596926) Homepage
    Yup. It is not exactly a terrible idea. There is some sense in doing this. In fact, if the only trouble is privacy, I predict new "passport holders" made entirely of metal. Stick the thing in a faraday cage, and it becomes completely harmless. Then, just take it out at border crossings and such.

    In fact, one of those little black bags that hard drives and mobos come packed in might just work.
  • by phoenix321 (734987) on Friday October 22, 2004 @08:29AM (#10596950)
    It is not easier to show, but it is a *lot* harder to hide. That's the point why everyone is making such a fuss around this issue, I think.

    Today, you carry some form of ID, be it driver's license in the US, a national ID in Europe or whatever. You are most of the time obliged to show this piece of ID to law enforcement officers if they ask for.

    Either the officer authenticates him/herself with his badge, a similar ID item or just the entire appearance along with police equipment and police car. So in 99% of all cases, I know when my ID is checked and by whom and I'm sure it was read by real officers on duty or someone is going to jail for posing as one.

    With RFID, none of us can ever know if we were checked, let alone by whom. If that person was really authorized by law and duty to check us, we can only pray for. We want to hide our ID from anyone's eyes who has not identified himself as a lawful officer on duty. With RFID it is hardly possible.

    If the regular police cannot or does not perform simple duties in plain sight, with proper uniform, without hiding the officers identity behind something, having the officers armed only with the law and a baton, our society as a whole is in trouble. Riot shields, handcuffs and a low power hand gun may be necessary at times, but cable ties, fully automatic rifles, masks are certainly unacceptable for me. Special units can have them, but regular policemen and -women should not. Hidden and unnoticed checks for unsuspecting passer-bys performed by guess-who are totally out of question.

    Law enforcement should not use mobster tactics. Should not be armed like mobsters, should not act like them. This may give criminals and terrorists an advantage, but it is the only way to make sure we can distinguish between officers and mobsters. If we allow the police to act like the mob, guess how long it takes for these two to merge...
  • by LincolnQ (648660) on Friday October 22, 2004 @08:38AM (#10596988)
    You can build an RFID tag that will DOS the system, but you first need to know how RFID works.

    The RFID tag is simply a sequence of bits. You can ask about portions of its tag -- "do you start with sequence X". There is no way to communicate with only one tag; if you send a request, all tags in range hear it and send an affirmative signal if they do start with that sequence (and nothing otherwise).

    When a reader needs to scan many RFID tags at once, it sends a signal saying 'Whose next bit is a 1?' and 'Whose next bit is a 0?' and counts the chirps for each response. When it gets zero chirps, it knows to stop (there are no tags with that ID). If it gets only one chirp, it has found a unique tag and records it. Otherwise, it recurs down both trees.

    If you build a device that always says 'yes' to both questions, the reader will have to recur down both trees 'forever' or give up until you leave range.

    This seems to have the desired effect of preventing RFID scans without your knowledge, and it would certainly be handy to be able to turn it off at will.

    LincolnQ
  • Re:Tracking... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phoenix321 (734987) on Friday October 22, 2004 @09:07AM (#10597143)
    Just because Hitler caused more than 40 million deaths in the end, we should NEVER feel safe from harm from anyone.

    The German people living in the year 1934 did know he was a dictator, but they never suspected him to be a mass murderer of epic proportions. In hindsight, we can laugh or tremble at their foolish beliefs, see through the Nazis lousy ideological concealment and pat ourselves on the back how we would have foreseen the Holocaust and the rest of this dark chapter of history.

    Today, we are very similar to solitary aircrash survivors: we perceive every threat as only a minor nuisance compared to what is behind us. That's foolish and delusional, I think, because we will overlook growing dictatorships and expanding fascism in the way.

    Because some politician has not yet totally subverted the goverment and has not started a new Holocaust doesn't mean he cannot compare to Hitler.

    Don't mix a fully informed hindsight after an extremely dangerous period in history with our limited insight about a current government that may be an emerging new dictatorship. Do not mix what you know Hitler did with what some current administration may be doing hidden somewhere now or may do in the future.

    Comparing the attitudes of Hitler and Bush will give some insights, I'm sure. And there's a lot less differences than I'd wish there were. Government by force, invading countries with forged evidence, fabricating its own bogeymen, subverting the election processes, putting millions in jails, opening secret jails in other countries, torturing inmates, restricting the rights of his own countrymen, using fear and scare tactics for population control while still singing a fake song of freedom and wrapping everything together in a nice patriotic package. If that is not at least a small bit comparable to a mindset of a typical Hitler, I don't know what it is.

    Godwin's Law prohibits these discussions. But Hitler is not that abomination in history you think he is. People in his time did not recognize his unspeakable crimes until it was far too late. Nothing can reach Hitlers crimes for a long time, but God forbid we feel safe just because of this. If the ovens are ever to start operating againg anywhere, it certainly is too late to complain.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday October 22, 2004 @09:12AM (#10597174) Homepage Journal
    Hmm. I think I know what the next million-dollar key-fob will be...

    RFID-be-gone anyone?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2004 @09:17AM (#10597206)
    Tinfoil can be used for circumvention of mandatory identification standards required by law. A plastic replacement will be put on the market. That will be all, citizen.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2004 @09:54AM (#10597518)
    I'm worried about how to protect oneself from a friggin chip broadcasting a signal that possibly bears an identifying signature that you're carrying an American passport to those who are not friendly to you.

    Would it possible to wrap the passport in tinfoil or put it in a metal case to render it invisible?

    Or better, can't a simple on/off switch be added to RFID devices? When going through customs you can just turn the little Orewillian nightmare on and leave it off otherwise.
  • Re:Tracking... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by syrinx (106469) * on Friday October 22, 2004 @10:12AM (#10597667) Homepage
    Maybe it'll be more of the same with another President, but somehow, I doubt it.

    You seriously think things will change with a different president?

    I wish I was as naive as you. Ignorance is bliss, after all.
  • by microbox (704317) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:18AM (#10598308)
    If there are privacy issues, it is because someone decides to abuse the technology, RFID or not

    Identity theft is already a serious problem, and RFID tags just make people more vulnerable. Imagine if someone copied your tag and then commited a crime.

    There's also abuse of the information by public officials. Throughout history there are instances of people abusing so-called private information. For example, a police officer accessing information on the cute girl who lives next door.

    The more centralized the information, the more potential for abuse and again, the more vulnerable people are.

    Is there a transparant public procedure of how the information is used and accessed? Or do we have a security through obsurity situation that allows wide ranging and hidden abuse of the system.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:19AM (#10598318)
    Depends on your definition of RFID. Most definitions do include SmartCard contactless cards into the definition. So taking that view Wired was right.

    Obviously there are lots of different RFID implementations, even the simple ones can differ substantially. So the article might have made a better distinction.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday October 22, 2004 @11:28AM (#10598401) Homepage Journal
    Funny if the person was from Japan and had a camera would have made fun of that? Or of the person was from a middle eastern country would it be alright to make fun of the way they dress?
    I was sitting next to a nice couple from London on my flight back home. They had never been to Florida in the summer only the winter. I warned them not to go out without a hat and sunscreen since London was having a heat wave at that time with temps in the 80s. Oh my that is winter in Florida. They asked me what we did on the 4th of July. I told them that we burned the english in effigy:) No I told them then invited them to my familys picnic. They eat BBQ and swam in my parrents pool. My wife who is from Texas even made them cookies to take back to their hotel for a snack. I guess I should have told them that wearing a hat would mark them as gang members and they should use baby oil to protect themselves from the sun.
    Guess what that "loud mouth" texan probabaly had never been out of US before. If he was in oil or more likely an oil worker he would have been from West Texas. Guess what every thing in London IS SMALLER THEN WEST TEXAS!. The streets, cars, and distances. In west Texas it is normal for someone to drive 100 miles to go shopping. So his loudness and noticing every thing is smaller and probably a lot more crowded was just his experence of London. For me it was noticing how old everything is. Being from South Florida a building over 40 years old is a landmark. And thanks to you his experence of people from London is they are.
    1. Idiots that do not know where their trains go.
    2. Or rude SOBs.
    He probably is giving you the benifit of the doubt and figures he miss heard you or that made a mistake. Why? Because it probably would never cross his mind that anyone would be so rude and mean as to do that to a perfect stranger.
  • Re:Tracking... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BreadMan (178060) on Friday October 22, 2004 @12:02PM (#10598849)
    >> I actually aways wanted to visit the united states
    By all means, stop over!

    If you're comming to the US for a visit, I can recommend NYC or Boston (expensive!), Chicago, D.C., but there's some other places that I'd guess you'd like too:

    - Portland [portland.me.us], ME
    - Asheville [asheville.com], NC
    - Billings [topix.net], MN
    - Boulder [boulder.co.us], CO
    - Philadelphia [philly.com], PA

    If you visit a big city, stay our of town, within walking distance to a rail link. The hotel room will be 1/2 - 2/3 less than staying downtown. For smaller cities, you'll need to rent a car.

    >> treat me like a criminal
    The last thing you're treated like is a criminal in the US. In fact, leave the airport and you'll probably not have another interaction with somebody from law enforcement until your return flight; 95% of police here are nice guys, more so when you get out of the major urban areas, so don't fear the police.
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Friday October 22, 2004 @01:18PM (#10599669)
    So I guess that the US citizens should be able to express their discomfort about RFID tagging in the upcoming elections.

    That isn't an option. We can't tell our representatives what to do, only select from the slate provided and pick one. We may tell them what we would like, but they are not required to do it. So no, we have absolutely no direct say on such topics. And since most Americans care more about whether we will allow use of stem cells for medical research or whether abortion will be a medical proceedure or if the puritanical elements get it relegated back to the alleys, we will never see such issues at the forefront. In fact, any candidate that comes out in opposition of the RFIDs will be branded a traitor to America that is soft on crime and terrorism that will get us all killed if elected. I hope this insight into the American political process helps. RFIDs are here to stay. The businesses like them, and they run the US, not the people that vote.
  • Easier to Forge (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MonkeyCookie (657433) on Friday October 22, 2004 @01:21PM (#10599711)
    It seems to me that it will eventually make it easier to forge Passports.

    People are lazy and cheap.

    The government doesn't want to have to pay a bunch of agents to look at passports and agents don't want to have to look at passports all day long. I predict that with RFID chips embedded in passports, there will just be devices that you wave your passport near and they will check to see its validity. There will be a security guard nearby to jump on anyone that fails the scan, but nobody will be actually looking at the passports.

    Along come Mr. Forger. He no longer needs to concentrate on making special paper, holigrams, and the like: all he needs to do is make it look decent and put a good RFID chip inside.

    The only problem: where to get some valid RFID numbers. That's easy! Just hang out at the airport for a few hours with an RFID scanning device, brushing against people and scanning their passports. Then take home the numbers and create some RFID tags with them.

    This wouldn't work as well if a picture popped up on a security guard's screen so that they can verify the holder of the passport looked like what they had on file, but...people are lazy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2004 @02:12PM (#10600598)
    "Son, tell me now, what "tube" do i have to catch to go to Manchester"

    This reminds me of the time I was waiting for a bus here in Texas and talking to an Indian guy. Texas is big and relatively sparsely populated, so public transit is largely impractical and thus close to nonexistent. The only reason I was waiting for a bus is that I was a college student at the time, and parking near campus is a pain, so I intentionally moved to one of the few places that has a bus route that takes me to campus.

    So anyway, there I am standing there, and this Indian guy comes up to me, explains that he's new in town, and asks me what bus he should take to his job interview. I ask him where his job interview is, and sure enough it's in the ritzy western part of town where there are lots of hills, lots of office buildings with beautiful views, curvy roads, and NO buses whatsoever. So I tell him, "If you really want to get to that job interview, you need to take a taxi. There is no way you can get there on a bus." It's true. The best thing he could hope to do is take an express bus 10 miles to downtown (which bus only comes every 30 minutes even at peak times), then get off and take a slooooww bus that slogs through neighborhood streets for nearly an hour (and only comes every 45 minutes). This second bus would drop him off about 3 to 5 miles away from his interview, and he'd have to hike the remaining distance along a road with no sidewalk, minimal shoulder, and traffic that runs 55 miles/hour. It's just not practical.

    But no matter how many times I tried to explain it, he just would not clue in that taking the bus was a totally wrong move if he wanted to get there, and he kept asking, halfway trying to get an answer and halfway trying to make it my problem that he was asking for the impossible.

    So, was this because Indian guys are dumb? On the contrary, they're usually quite intelligent and educated and well-mannered. But cities in Texas are just not laid out like Mumbai or Delhi. So this guy was totally unable to comprehend this new situation that didn't fit his mental model. I guess my point (I think I have one...) is that people often seem really dumb when they're in a totally unfamiliar environment.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2004 @03:04PM (#10601468)
    you *never* have to give fingerprints in the UK unless you've been caught breaking the law

    While not part of the english-occupied homelands, your royal overlords' crown colony in Hong Kong required fingerprints of all residents. Now the new communist overlords have them which is a really comforting thought!

  • by xtal (49134) on Friday October 22, 2004 @03:32PM (#10602098) Homepage

    Say you're from Canada if you get into a sticky situation. Most anti-Americanism is directed at the government, but alot is not. It may sound funny, but seriously, and especially if you drink (alcohol+antiAmericanism=not good), you can diffuse a potentially explosive situation if you say you're from Canada. Eh?


    I'm a Canadian. Please don't do this.

    What does it say about your great and proud country that you might feel the need to LIE about being one of it's citizens?

    *sigh*
  • Tell the truth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dire Bonobo (812883) on Friday October 22, 2004 @09:00PM (#10605721)
    > 4. Say you're from Canada

    Don't. It just gives Americans an international reputation for being liars, which just makes the situation worse.

    Most foreigners genuinely like Americans, even while genuinely disliking the US government. Express sympathy for any US government foreign policy blunders in the area, ask them what you can do to help, and listen to the response. People love to be listened to, and love to be agreed with.

    It's amazing how far a little politeness and tact will take you. Enough of that from enough people, and some of the international bad opinion of American tourists might well go away. Or, we could convince the rest of the world we're liars, as well as all the other things they already believe.

    While it may be virtually a national passtime to take the easy way out that helps in the short term while building up long-term problems, it's no better an idea here than it is anywhere else.

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