Posted on June 21st, 2009 by bile
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Samsung (and your local government) hasn’t been shy with its plans for electrifying passports. Yet we still haven’t seen video of its e-passport with flexible OLED display in action, ’till now. The 2-inch, 240×320 AMOLED displays a disembodied, rotating head in 260k colors and 10k:1 contrast when activated by an RF source reader. No details were provided as to when these might enter production but we have the icky feeling it’ll be sooner than we want.

REAL ID 2.0 is PASS ID. Once they have that finished I’m sure they’d love to waste money and further bring on the police state by increasing the technology in the national IDs.

Reminds me a bit of the handheld devices in Gattaca.

The techie in me loves the technology… I can’t wait till we get the propaganda wallpaper TVs like Fahrenheit 451.

Obama administration scrambles to ‘fix’ Real ID before December 2009 deadline

Posted on June 16th, 2009 by bile
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The Obama administration is making a last-minute effort to fix the controversial Real ID Act before the program’s deadline is reached in December. Changes to the measure, which will be introduced soon in Congress, could add additional privacy safeguards and remove some of the program’s most costly requirements.

The Real ID Act, which was passed as a rider on a 2005 military spending bill, aims to create a standardized national ID card and a system of interconnected state identity databases that would be fully accessible by the federal government. The law requires state ID cards to have a machine-readable mechanism that can be used to electronically extract information about the card-holder. The cards would be required in order to gain access to federal buildings and security-sensitive locations, such as airports.

Real ID has faced intense criticism from privacy advocates and state governments. The implementation costs are far exceeding Congressional estimates and states are facing enormous technical challenges as they attempt to boost the interoperability of their legacy identity database systems in order to meet the law’s requirements. Not a single state was able to implement the program by the original May 2008 deadline, forcing the government to extend the deadline to the end of 2009.

The new deadline is approaching swiftly and the vast majority of states are still not on track. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona and a vocal critic of Real ID, is said to be drafting a new proposal that will scale back the law’s requirements so that it can be reasonably accomplished by states within the allotted time.

The Washington Post reports that the new proposal, which is called Pass ID, could boost the program’s privacy safeguards and eliminate the costly national database requirements. The law would still require the identity cards to include a machine-readable mechanism. According to the Post, the Obama administration has been in talks with the National Governors Association for months in an effort to devise a reasonable compromise.

The Republican leadership in Congress, however, is voicing preemptive opposition to the changes. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), one of the original authors of the Real ID Act, criticized the governors who are struggling to implement the program and argued against weakening the law.

“[If Real ID is weakened] we go right back to where we were on Sept. 10, 2001,” Sensenbrenner told the Post. “Maybe governors should have been in the Capitol when we knew a plane was on its way to Washington wanting to kill a few thousand more people.”

As no state has been able to implement the Real ID Act, the condition of identity validation in the United States is arguably already exactly the same today as it was roughly ten years ago, so the soundness of Sensenbrenner’s criticism is questionable. Shrill invocations of 9/11 aside, the database plan was flawed to begin with and its demise marks a significant improvement.

I won’t pick up a Pass ID either should that gets passed. You can’t fix something that is fundamentally broken and illegitimate.

Brits dislike National ID plan a bit more but not by enough

Posted on December 12th, 2008 by bile
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The latest Home Office poll on public attitudes to the planned National ID card indicates that support for the scheme has eroded slightly, with the proportion of those in favour down from 60 to 55 per cent.

The survey, carried out among 2,098 randomly selected Brits from 31 October to 4 November, showed opposition to the Card remaining steady. Seventeen per cent of respondents disagreed strongly with the plans and 9 per cent slightly, up from August by a single percentage point each.

The top reason given for disagreeing with the card stayed the same – that it would interfere with personal freedom. Other common objections were that the scheme was unnecessary, wouldn’t work, and would be a waste of money.

Twenty-three per cent of those disagreeing also said that the government could not be trusted to keep personal data secure, up from 19 per cent in August. Before August’s survey this concern wasn’t cited often enough to figure in the results, reflecting the rash of data-loss scandals suffered this year.

According to the survey report, “there is still confusion and uncertainty, particularly regarding the belief that individuals will be required to carry their identity cards with them at all times”. Some 69 per cent of respondents believed this to be true, but according to the Home Office pollsters “it is in fact false”.

Another interesting remark was made in the report: “There were also a number of people who believed public and private sector organisations will be able to access their information (56%), but again this is a false statement.”

One would have thought that some public-sector organisations – for instance the Immigration and Passport Service itself – would be able to access the information, but apparently not.

The Tories and the NO2ID anti-card group said the survey results showed the government was losing the argument.

“We are seeing the beginning of the end of ID cards,” NO2ID’s Phil Booth told the Telegraph.

The survey results can be read in full here (pdf).

The numbers aren’t too bad but it seems likely to me that when the IDs are issued most of the 45% who didn’t like the idea will roll over and take it. What percentage will just say no? The US is still pushing REAL ID though from a slightly different angle now and I expect Americans to roll over too.

TSA to soon require identification

Posted on June 9th, 2008 by bile
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Beginning Saturday, June 21, 2008 passengers that willfully refuse to provide identification at security checkpoint will be denied access to the secure area of airports. This change will apply exclusively to individuals that simply refuse to provide any identification or assist transportation security officers in ascertaining their identity.

This new procedure will not affect passengers that may have misplaced, lost or otherwise do not have ID but are cooperative with officers. Cooperative passengers without ID may be subjected to additional screening protocols, including enhanced physical screening, enhanced carry-on and/or checked baggage screening, interviews with behavior detection or law enforcement officers and other measures.

Under the law that created TSA, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, the TSA administrator is responsible for overseeing aviation security (P.L. 107-71) and has the authority to establish security procedures at airports (49 C.F.R. § 1540.107). Passengers that fail to comply with security procedures may be prohibited from entering the secure area of airports to catch their flight (49 C.F.R. § 1540.105(a)(2).

This initiative is the latest in a series designed to facilitate travel for legitimate passengers while enhancing the agency’s risk-based focus – on people, not things. Positively identifying passengers is an important tool in our multi-layered approach to security and one that we have significantly bolstered during the past 18 months.

I think we can now agree that the reason for the TSA’s existence is control and security theater. Ignoring this. 1. No person with malicious intent would want to raise suspicion or awareness of themselves by refusing to show identification. They’d just get false IDs. 2. How is refusing those who refuse to show ID any safer than giving them a secondary search? You’re going to let these people still walk around the airport correct? If they are strapped with explosives and refusing to provide ID they could just take out all those in the security checkpoint which very likely is backed up because of the TSA’s inefficiency.

This puts people like myself in a difficult situation. Break our principles to ease transportation or utilize ground and water based methods and hope the State doesn’t move to “secure” them. I very rarely fly so the choice at the moment is simple.

Innocent photographer or terrorist?

Posted on April 19th, 2008 by bile
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Misplaced fears about terror, privacy and child protection are preventing amateur photographers from enjoying their hobby, say campaigners.

Phil Smith thought ex-EastEnder Letitia Dean turning on the Christmas lights in Ipswich would make a good snap for his collection.

The 49-year-old started by firing off a few shots of the warm-up act on stage. But before the main attraction showed up, Mr Smith was challenged by a police officer who asked if he had a licence for the camera.

After explaining he didn’t need one, he was taken down a side-street for a formal “stop and search”, then asked to delete the photos and ordered not take any more. So he slunk home with his camera.

“They [police, park wardens, security guards] seem to think you can’t take pictures of people in public places. It’s reached a point where everyone in the photographic world has become so concerned we’re mounting campaigns and trying to publicise this.”

It seems to be increasing, he says.

“There’s a great deal of paranoia around but the police are on alert for anything that vaguely resembles terrorism. It’s difficult because the more professional a photographer, paradoxically, the more likely they are to be stopped or questioned.

“If people were using photos for terrorism purposes they would be using the smallest camera possible.”

This happens in NYC a lot too and from my understanding in other small and large cities throughout the USA. My recommendation is carry around a badge that says you are a member of the press. Free Talk Live regularlly tells people that they can say they are contractors for FTL if they get harrassed by officials of the government. Obviously if you have a blog or the like you can use that. I really enjoy the fact that the UK has the most cameras watching its people per capita in the world and they hassle people for taking photos of random things.

For those who like propaganda:

Tracking prisoners with RFID

Posted on January 15th, 2008 by bile
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A tech company with ties to a school district plans to test a tracking system by putting computer chips on grade-schoolers’ backpacks, an experiment the ACLU ripped Monday as invasive and unnecessary.The pilot program set to start next week in the Middletown school district would have about 80 children put tags containing radio frequency identification chips, or RFID chips, on their schoolbags. It would also equip two buses with global positioning systems, or GPS devices.

The school and parents will be able to track students on the bus, and the district hopes the program will improve busing efficiency, Superintendent Rosemarie Kraeger said. The devices are intended to record only when students enter and exit the bus, and the GPS would show where the bus was on it’s route.

Parents could opt out of the program, Kraeger said.

The pilot program, made by MAP Information Technology Corp., is to run for several months at the Aquidneck School, she said. The district, which serves about 2,500 students, is the company’s only client, said Deborah Rapp, the company’s director of marketing and communications.

I don’t even understand how this is useful. Are they having problems with kids not getting on buses or jumping out windows while in transit? I’d be wrapping the RFID in a Faraday cage or would let it meet the microwave for a bit. The GPSed buses makes sense I suppose but I’m not sure how it would help improve efficiency. Just pick up a map, draw it’s route and solve.…

Ah — dead, eerily-prescient, 20th century authors… they just can’t stop proving you right, can they? In a decidedly Orwellian turn, British authorities are considering a proposal to implant “machine-readable” RFID tags under the skin of some prison inmates as part of a plan to free up space in the country’s overcrowded prisons. Just like the nightmare world described in your favorite cautionary tales, the chips would enable authorities to track the location of implantees using satellite and radio-wave technology. The program would build off of the current ankle-tagging currently in place, and according to a official from the Ministry of Justice who finds the plan double-plus good, “All the options are on the table, and this is one we would like to pursue.” Of course, the controversial concept does have its detractors, Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, says that, “If the Home Office doesn’t understand why implanting a chip in someone is worse than an ankle bracelet, they don’t need a human-rights lawyer; they need a common-sense bypass.”

Do these guys understand that a traditional RFID will not be picked up by a satellite? Even an active RFID only has a 2km range from my understanding and would need to be triangulated. Are they going to be putting lots of receivers up around town? Perhaps next to their cameras or on cell towers. I wonder how many of the people they intend to implant are in jail for non-violent victimless “crimes?”

First the pets, then your creditcards and IDs, then the kids bookbags, then the criminals, then every new born and finally all those left. We are halfway there with some people voluntarily chipping themselves already.