Passports used to track people? why go so far..

In recent news, a posting on slashdot talked about: Cruising Fisherman’s Wharf For New Passports’ Serial Numbers as a means of gaining access to sensitive information as well as being able to secretly do surveillance on people without their concent.

Is it just me, or have everyone forgotten the little, sometimes more than one, devices they take around with them all the time called cellphones?

Those tiny devices are perfect for surveillance, they emit a signal, when the signal is too weak to reach a cell site they try harder, they – if enabled – broadcast their GPS location via Google Latitude, and can allow anyone with the right equipment – not expensive as you would think – to track you down.

I think that the RFID and Passports “noise” being generated is just a smoke screen to distract people from the already existing and being used ability of governments and bad people of course, to track you down using the signalls emitted by your cellphone.

RFID unlike cellphones, can be easily blocked by simple means, for example putting your passport into a aluminium/metal sleeve, while I don’t see anyone doing the same to their cellphones :)

  • King

    It depends on the type of surveillance you want to do.

    Your cell phone gives up no personal information about you. I don’t know that a passport does, either, but that’s the fear with RFID tags in general because they store such data.

    Cell phone tracking is more usable from afar. Perhaps people don’t mind being located in proximity to a cell tower (presuming no GPS enabling, which if they’ve done, I presume they don’t mind more specific tracking). Although it is possible to triangulate between 3 cell towers and get a more accurate position, that is still an approximation.

    But with RFID, I can sit on the wharf (or in an airport or a mall) and suck in short-range broadcast information and physically identify the group of candidate sources and even choose to follow one in order to identify or eliminate them. This is, on some level, much creepier to me because it means it’s personal surveillance rather than simple remote tracking. This is stalker stuff that can be done just using the unique ID from the tag, nevermind if it actually gives up any personal information.

    You can’t really compare the two, they provide different information and enable different types of surveillance. What may make RFID more of a concern right now is that the public understands less about it, so most cannot properly assess the risks.