The CBC reports on documents that the US tried to bury by releasing the day after Thanksgiving, admitting that “…Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain share the suspicion that the international standard set for the electronic passports inadequately protects privacy and security.”
These chips can be read from 30 feet away, today. That’s the opinion of experts inside the US Government. (Phil Libin quotes from a NIST report.) The only reasons to support these things are if you want to be reading out who’s in a crowd at a distance.
The documents go on to say that “We are still hard at work at ensuring the security and integrity of the data on the chip,” [Frank] Moss [deputy assistant secretary of state for passport services] said. However, we plan to start issuing these passports before that’s done, and then back-compatability issues will prevent any security at all.
The right security measure is contact. If passports need chips, and I’ve yet to see anyone explain why they do, require that the chip be in contact with the reader. Simple, cheap, easy.