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Security vs. Privacy: Continued
the year draws to an end, arguments continue to be presented by both
security and privacy experts as to how the threat of terrorism should be
confronted while preserving the privacy of the individual. Little
progress has been made in finding a middle ground where both sides feel
that their respective interests have been adequately met.
compliance with standards set by the International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO), an affiliate of the U.N., and beginning next year,
all new U.S. passports are scheduled to contain a computer chip embedded
in their back cover that will store all of the document's printed
biographic information: owner's
name, birth date, issuing office,
and biometric identifier (a digitized photograph of the passportís
owner). The chips will,
however, be capable of containing additional information and identifiers
such as fingerprints and iris scans.
the request of the U.S., this same requirement will apply to foreign
travelers entering the United States. After September 2005, new
passports issued to residents of some 27 non-visa countries such as
England and France must include a microchip containing the information
required by the new ICAO standards.
new passports need only be waved in front of a reader to be read.
This ability to be read remotely - at a distance estimated by
some authorities to be as much as 30 feet - has met with resistance from
civil rights advocates and legal experts.
a somewhat more sophisticated version, the chip proposed for the new
passport is similar to the common RFID (Radio
chip widely used to protect merchandise from shoplifters.
Several optional requirements proposed by ICAO
include the ability to send one piece of information at a time as
queried by machine readers and the incorporation of multiple layers of
ICAO standards represent a step toward a more secure identity yet fall
short of being a complete solution. Privacy rights organizations find
much to oppose in the new standards. e-pass, however, offers an ideal
solution with which both privacy and security interests can be happy.
a wafer-thin computer with all the appropriate operating and application
software from multiple U.S. and state agencies, the e-pass device merges
the convenience of smart cards with the processing power of a small
computer. Its operating
system and CPU control the flow of information set forth by the ICAO
standards. This includes biographical information and a digitized
photograph of the passport holder.
As standards may increase over time, iris scans and fingerprints
could also be stored. All of this information can be protected by
built-in encrypted authentication proving the originality of all
to the security of the e-pass device are one or more display windows
providing for the selective display of information from any of
the data bases contained within the device. As the e-pass device
incorporates PIN codes and/or bio-codes, access to the information held
by the device is gained only by verification within e-pass of the proper
sequence of PIN/BIO codes.
Incorporating digitized images and authenticated documents contributes to the security of the device and the information it contains while the method of entry insures that only the holder of the device may gain access. e-pass brings to the debate a uniquely powerful and secure device, offering a plausible solution to both security and privacy.
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