Senators Question Use of RFID in E-Passports, National ID Cards

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 12-15-2006
The separate initiatives put forth by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to utilize RFID in passports, identification cards and driver's licenses are coming under fire from various directions. At issue are concerns that the radio-frequency identification method of storing data on national electronic ID cards—the e-passport, PASScard and electronic driver's license—is neither secure nor private.

On Dec. 12, two senators—a Democrat and a Republican—said they would propose legislation to repeal the Real ID Act of 2005 if the Department of Homeland Security does not change the act to include more personal privacy provisions and less of a financial burden on states, according to news reports.

The Real ID Act mandates that every state overhaul its driver's license ID card system by 2008. It requires real-time authentication for documents such as birth certificates and Social Security cards—which would require a massive electronic, interoperable network—and the creation of a national database to store the electronic data gathered at the state level.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., said they take issue with the technological implications of the act.

Sen. Akaka said that if the proposed national database were to be breached it would "provide one-stop access to virtually all information necessary to commit identity theft," and pointed to a study by the National Governors Association estimating that states would have to come up with a total of about $11 billion each to implement the necessary infrastructure to verify information electronically. Akaka will chair the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee—the group that has jurisdiction over the relationship between the federal and state governments—in 2007.

Read the full story on eWeek: Senators Question Use of RFID in E-Passports, National ID Cards