TSA Concept Video
Shows Future RFID-Enabled Airport
Spychips In Passports May Be Just The Start,
Warn Privacy Advocates
Albrecht / SpyChips.com | August 15 2006
RFID-laced passports may be just the
start of an Orwellian airport experience, warn privacy advocates and
authors Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre as the nation braces for
a rollout of the controversial technology in passports this week.
They point to a U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) concept
video created by CompEx Inc. that shows how citizens can be tracked
and monitored throughout an airport terminal -- without their knowledge
The animated flash clip is posted on the authors' website at: http://www.spychips.com/RFIDairport.html
In the video, citizen "Bob" is remotely identified and tracked
via Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) devices as he enters an airport
and navigates to his gate. The video ends with chilling frames of a
government agent surreptitiously scanning Bob and his belongings as
he sits in the waiting area.
CompEx Inc. President Aram Kovach, who developed the film as a demo
for the TSA, received a U.S. Patent for the idea he calls "Method
for Tracking and Processing Passengers and their Transported Articles"
in November of 2005. According to company press releases, TSA officials
entertained his ideas twice, once in 2002 and once in 2003, and "offered
to direct CompEx in pursuing a segmented objective within the guidelines
they have set forth."
"This footage raises the specter of Soviet-style government surveillance
creeping onto our free soil," said McIntyre. "People need
to know that our government has actively considered these disturbing
and invasive RFID concepts. With RFID now appearing in our passports,
the threat to our privacy and civil liberties may be more than theoretical."
"RFID passports will do little to keep us safer," Albrecht
added. "On the contrary, by requiring us to carry RFID tags in
our travel documents, the government is jeopardizing our personal information
while doing little to slow down the bad guys."
The new passports are vulnerable to hacking and cloning by criminals.
Last week at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, German
researcher Lukas Grunwald showed how easily a criminal or terrorist
could clone RFID tags like those in U.S. passports using inexpensive
and readily available hardware.
Liz McIntyre and Katherine Albrecht are the authors of "Spychips:
How Major Corporations Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID."
The book draws on patent documents, corporate source materials, conference
proceedings, and firsthand interviews to paint a convincing -- and frightening
-- picture of the consumer privacy threat posed by RFID.
Despite its hundreds of footnotes and academic-level accuracy, the book
remains lively and readable according to critics, who have called it
a "techno-thriller" and "a masterpiece of technocriticism."
Two days prior to its release in 2005, "Spychips" flew the
top of the Amazon bestseller charts, hitting number one as a "Mover
& Shaker," making its way to the top-ten Nonfiction bestseller
list, and spending weeks as a Current Events bestseller. In a nod to
the book's focus on freedom, Spychips was awarded the prestigious Lysander
Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty and named "the
year's best book on liberty."
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