Security: RFID passports

The US State Department wants to put RFID (Radio Frequency ID's) into the US passports. Bruce Schneier has a recent article on the latest incantation. This version is actually a bit better than before but you have to think of why the State Department wants to use RFIDs in the passports. I can see two reasons:
  • The RFID chip creators are good at lobying.
  • They want to be able to read you passport secretly.
The later seems more likely. When I'm traveling I don't like to leave my passport in my room and often have it with me. If you had readers placed discretely in certain areas (train stations, mosks, churches) there's a chance you can keep track of a suspected criminal. Also, if you are looking for someone and are afraid they may fly out of the country you may be able to track them as they enter the airport (if you had readers at all the doors) rather than when they go through customs. This might give you a little extra time to mobilize your troops to capture him or her.
If this is the reason, why don't they mention that, instead of lying about it? Is it because you want to keep it a secret from the criminals? Do you think they are that dumb?


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