Did you know that all passports issued by the US State Department after January 1, 2007 have always-on radio frequency identification chips, making it easy for officials and hackers to grab your personal stats?
If you’re worried about strangers slurping up your identity or your privacy in general, here’s what you can do about it.
Disclaimer: Tampering with a passport is punishable by 25 years in prison, not to mention the “special” customs search with rubber gloves.
I am not instructing you to try these methods, only discussing possible solutions.
The RFID-tagged passports have a distinctive logo on the front cover. The chip is embedded in the back.
Accidentally leaving your passport in the jeans you just put in the washer won’t work to disable the RFID chip. You’re more likely to ruin the passport itself than the chip.
Forget about nuking it in the microwave as the chip could burst into flames, which wouldn’t be good. It would probably leave telltale scorch marks, besides a burnt passport probably wouldn’t smell to nice.
So what is the best approach you might be asking yourself?
Hammer time. Hitting the chip with a blunt, hard object should disable it.
To the best of my knowledge, a nonworking RFID doesn’t invalidate the passport, so you can still use it.
I bet right about now you’re wondering what information is stored on the RFID chips. I’ll tell you… your name, nationality, sex, date of birth, place of birth and a digitized photograph of you, the passport holder.
Eventually, the government contemplates adding additional digitized data such as fingerprints or iris scans.
According to a document I found, the State Department claims it has addressed privacy concerns. The chipped passports “will not permit ‘tracking’ of individuals,” the department said.
I don’t buy it for one second. How about you?
The document goes on to say that the RFID chip “will only permit governmental authorities to know that an individual has arrived at a port of entry, which governmental authorities already know from presentation of non-electronic passports with greater assurance that the person who presents the passport is the legitimate holder of the passport.”
If you have any more information about this exciting violation of our privacy, let me know. Feel free to comment or contact me in private.