I guess it is not too surprising, but one would think that the era of bar codes coming into the background technology of passports would make life easier for travel. It’s a lot like shopping. Walk up to the counter, swipe it through, and you’re in. It wasn’t until a snippet on BoingBoing linked to the following article that I learned about the changes of international travel as a U.S. citizen.
How To: Disable Your Passport’s RFID Chip
All passports issued by the US State Department after January 1 will have always-on radio frequency identification chips, making it easy for officials – and hackers – to grab your personal stats. Getting paranoid about strangers slurping up your identity? Here’s what you can do about it. But be careful – tampering with a passport is punishable by 25 years in prison. Not to mention the “special” customs search, with rubber gloves. Bon voyage! [wired]
It’s not a constant tracking of your movements, but this is getting somewhat close. RFID[wiki] is how large companies, like Wal-Mart or FedEx, track shipments of materials across the expanse of their operations. Like the article says, this technology is pretty much always on. Just like GPS, you just have to have the right tools to tune in and find our where you are. Except in this case, someone can find your general location. Or at least, they can find where you lost your favorite pair of pants that you left your passport in.
I have till the end of this decade until I have to renew mine, and this really creeps me out. I wonder when someone will start selling lead-lined wallets for your passport. After 2010, I’ll become a dot on someone’s grid.