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Plan to Use RFID in U.S. Border Control Draws Fire

Industry groups are skeptical about the U.S. government plan to add long-range RFID technology to driver’s licenses to improve border security. by Ellen Messmer, Network World

A U.S. government plan to use long-range RFID technology as part of a border-crossing security initiative is coming under intensified fire by an industry group.

Beginning Jan. 31, 2008, a valid won’t be enough for travelers to pass between the United States and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda, under new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rules. A standard government passport will be required, or a birth certificate with driver’s license. But as an alternative, DHS is moving forward with a pilot program that has states adding long-range RFID technology to driver’s licenses.

The idea is to have U.S. border guards with readers quickly read a traveler’s RFID-enhanced driver’s license remotely and make a face check and watch for any posted security red flags pulled up by a database.

But the RFID technology is coming under fire from some, including the industry group , which says long-range RFID is a bad idea in terms of security and operational efficiency.

“Long-range RFID is meant for tracking packages in a warehouse,” says Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, which has been tracking the laws and technology proposals for what DHS and Congress call the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), part of the many security revisions hammered out in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks six years ago. Read more…

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