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The U.S. State Department Responds to ACLU Accusation

A U.S. government official has responded to the ACLU's accusation last week that it had willingly sponsored a design for new RFID passports that is potentially abusive of personal privacy.
Dec 03, 2004This article was originally published by RFID Update.

December 3, 2004—A U.S. State Department official has responded to the American Civil Liberties Union's accusation last week that the government had willingly sponsored a design for new RFID passports whose lack of security makes it potentially vulnerable to personal privacy abuses. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Passport Services for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Frank Moss, insists that the agency is sensitive to security concerns and is considering them in the new passport specification. He denied ACLU claims that through participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization, the body charged with developing an "electronic passport" standard, the United States had been furthering its own agenda when it vetoed efforts to encrypt or otherwise secure the sensitive passport information under the new standard. He claimed that the U.S. was interested in the widest international participation possible, and encryption of passport data would have resulted in the exclusion of some countries.

But doubts remain. Central to privacy advocates' concern is that the U.S. government has failed to present a convincing case for using RFID in the new electronic passports instead of alternative technologies that require contact and are therefore far less vulnerable to abuse. The most skeptical opponents worry that surreptitious surveillance is the government's hidden agenda. Until the government can articulate an argument to the contrary, the skeptics' belief will continue gaining momentum.

Read the article at internetnews.com
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