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Ireland getting naked e-passports

Evan Blass
October 23, 2006
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If you think you're at risk of identity theft and targeted assassination attempts with your new RFID-enabled passport, just think of the Irish for a moment: they started getting e-passports last week that don't even include the little mesh jacket that supposedly keeps our version safe from unauthorized readers. With Dutch and German passports based on the same ICAO guidelines having already been successfully intercepted and decrypted, people are understandably concerned that the US didn't think this policy all the way through before making it a requirement of the Visa Waiver program, and now it seems that some of the affected countries are willing to implement even shoddier security than a type that is already deemed risky. According to Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs, shielding the new documents is not necessary because they can only be detected when open and close to a reader, even though the general consensus is that the read distance of the chips they're using can be as much as several meters. Apparently the immediate fear is not so much over stolen identities (because of encryption), however, as it is about terrorists being able to use so-called RFID skimmers for targeting groups of people based on their nationality.

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