May 28, 2008

Chips Ahoy on Labor Day!

More bureaucracy! More control over citizens' movements! More lack of freedom! Hooray!

Enhanced DMV license available after Labor Day
BY JAMES T. MADORE 9:52 PM EDT, May 27, 2008
ALBANY - After Labor Day, vacationers on cruise ships to the Caribbean and motorists to Canada will be able to apply for a new driver's license that meets tougher federal identification requirements to re-enter the United States, beginning in June 2009.
Officials said Tuesday that New York would be only the second state in the country, after Washington, to roll out an Enhanced Driver License that doubles as a passport book but costs $20 less. The new license can be obtained only by residents with proof of U.S. citizenship, and it isn't valid for entry to the country by airplane.
Applicants must visit a state Department of Motor Vehicles office with the required proof of identity, such a birth certificate and passport, among others. The process shouldn't take any longer than for the current driver's license, said officials, who also noted obtaining the enhanced license was voluntary
The enhanced license was first raised last fall by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer as part of a larger plan to offer regular driver's licenses to illegal immigrants in an attempt to reduce traffic accidents and better track residents. The illegal-immigrant component sparked a firestorm, forcing Spitzer to drop it in November. But officials said Tuesday that plans for the enhanced license moved forward with talks between state and federal agencies.
The enhanced license "represents a major step forward that will help the upstate economy [near the Canadian border] and offer a convenience for all New Yorkers who travel in North America," said Gov. David A. Paterson.
U.S. homeland security czar Michael Chertoff hopes other states will follow New York and Washington in advance of a new border inspection regime set to go into effect on June 1, 2009. Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, residents will have to show a passport or other valid identification, such as the enhanced license, to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda via land or sea.
The new license, costing $80, will resemble the current license except it will include an American flag on the front and have a radio-frequency identification chip allowing border guards to access necessary information. The fee for renewing a driver's license would remain $50.
State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), a member of his body's Homeland Security Committee, questioned the wisdom of establishing "a two-tiered licensing system" and whether the DMV could administer the program. He cited the agency's issuing of 23,000 driver's licenses to foreign visitors here legally on a temporary basis -- and refusal to rescind them after Spitzer withdrew his license plan.
Assemb. Patricia Eddington (D-Medford), a member of her body's government operations committee, said, "I don't understand why we would need an enhanced driver's license if we have a passport. What purpose does it serve?",0,2206392.story
Here’s an informative discussion of RFID and a call to allow consumers the ability to disable them from our clothes, blowdryers, whatever:
RFID Chips Are Here
Scott Granneman, 2003-06-26
RFID chips are being embedded in everything from jeans to paper money, and your privacy is at stake.
[...] Several major manufacturers and retailers expect RFID tags to aid in managing the supply chain, from manufacturing to shipping to stocking store shelves, including Gillette (which purchased 500 million RFID tags for its razors), Home Depot, The Gap, Proctor & Gamble, Prada, Target, Tesco (a United Kingdom chain), and Wal-Mart. Especially Wal-Mart.
The retail giant, the largest employer in America, is working with Gillette to create "smart shelves" that can alert managers and stockboys to replenish the supply of razors. More significantly, Wal-Mart intends for its top 100 suppliers to fully support RFID for inventory tracking by 2005. Wal-Mart would love to be able to point an RFID reader at any of the 1 billion sealed boxes of widgets it receives every year and instantly know exactly how many widgets it has. No unpacking, no unnecessary handling, no barcode scanners required.
[...] Right now, you can buy a hammer, a pair of jeans, or a razor blade with anonymity. With RFID tags, that may be a thing of the past. Some manufacturers are planning to tag just the packaging, but others will also tag their products. There is no law requiring a label indicating that an RFID chip is in a product. Once you buy your RFID-tagged jeans at The Gap with RFID-tagged money, walk out of the store wearing RFID-tagged shoes, and get into your car with its RFID-tagged tires, you could be tracked anywhere you travel. Bar codes are usually scanned at the store, but not after purchase. But RFID transponders are, in many cases, forever part of the product, and designed to respond when they receive a signal. Imagine everything you own is "numbered, identified, catalogued, and tracked." Anonymity and privacy? Gone in a hailstorm of invisible communication, betrayed by your very property.
But let's not stop there. Others are talking about placing RFID tags into all sensitive or important documents: "it will be practical to put them not only in paper money, but in drivers' licenses, passports, stock certificates, manuscripts, university diplomas, medical degrees and licenses, birth certificates, and any other sort of document you can think of where authenticity is paramount." In other words, those documents you're required to have, that you can't live without, will be forever tagged.
Consider the human body as well. Applied Digital Solutions has designed an RFID tag - called the VeriChip - for people. Only 11 mm long, it is designed to go under the skin, where it can be read from four feet away. They sell it as a great way to keep track of children, Alzheimer's patients in danger of wandering, and anyone else with a medical disability, but it gives me the creeps. The possibilities are scary. In May, delegates to the Chinese Communist Party Congress were required to wear an RFID-equipped badge at all times so their movements could be tracked and recorded. Is there any doubt that, in a few years, those badges will be replaced by VeriChip-like devices?
Surveillance is getting easier, cheaper, smaller, and ubiquitous. Sure, it's possible to destroy an RFID tag. You can crush it, puncture it, or microwave it (but be careful of fires!). You can't drown it, however, and you can't demagnetize it. And washing RFID-tagged clothes won't remove the chips, since they're specifically designed to withstand years of wearing, washing, and drying. You could remove the chip from your jeans, but you'd have to find it first.
That's why Congress should require that consumers be notified about products with embedded RFID tags. We should know when we're being tagged. We should also be able to disable the chips in our own property. If it's the property of the company we work for, that's a different matter. But if it's ours, we should be able to control whether tracking is enabled.
Security professionals need to realize that RFID tags are dumb devices. They listen, and they respond. Currently, they don't care who sends the signal. Anything your companies' transceiver can detect, the bad guy's transceiver can detect. So don't be lulled into a false sense of security.
With RFID about to arrive in full force, don't be lulled at all. Major changes are coming, and not all of them will be positive. The law of unintended consequences is about to encounter surveillance devices smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good evening

Looking forward to your next post