On Tuesday, I talked about how not
understanding technology can lead to a world view that is not tightly connected to reality.
Perhaps another example is this
Wired article on passports that the US will begin issuing in October. The passports use embedded radio frequency ID (RFID) chips as one of several ways to make them more secure. However a US State Department official is quoted as saying the department knows the chips can be cloned but that doesn’t matter as
long as the official examing the passport actually compares the hard copy to the data in the RFID.
This, of course, seems to presuppose that the entire security system, including all the employees
who are part of it, will always work as it was designed. But as we have seen in my Tuesday’s post, this is not a valid assumption.
I’m not going to go tin-foil hat and all on this because the article seems to indicate that other
security features are included in the passport. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to
imagine a situation in which the official viewing the passport will, because of his or her lack of understanding of the technology, rely on the RFID data exclusively.
Should this happen when the person standing before the official is a terrorist, well, let’s just
say bad things could happen.