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RFID Key to New Dept of Homeland Security Card

In May, an RFID and biometric access card will start being issued to as many as 40,000 employees of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Tags: Privacy
Mar 07, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

March 7, 2005—In May, an RFID and biometric access card will start being issued to as many as 40,000 employees of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It will contain a digital version of its owner's fingerprint and likeness, as well as a hologram and RFID tag. Using the new system, the owner will not only feed his card into or wave it by a reader situated at the entrance to a government building or computer terminal, he will also have to press his finger against a fingerprint reader.

Security professionals worry that, though encrypted, the identification information encoded on each card will be vulnerable to hacker snoops equipped with RFID readers. Privacy advocates are also worried about that information, though not just for the prospect of hacker snooping; they worry the cards are yet another step towards widespread government tracking of civilians. The view becomes bleaker when you take into account the phenomenon of "function creep," in which the number of places and functions for which the card can be used increases over time. There are already plans for the card to double as a subway pass.

But perhaps the more alarming possibility would be "user creep." That is, while today the card is required by employees of only one branch of the government, perhaps tomorrow it will be required of all government employees. And ten years from now?

Read more at Wired News
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