Worried that you are being tracked by big brother everywhere you go, 24/7? I can’t say whether or not that is true, if I tell you the truth they’ll kill me, but I can warn you about getting a new passport. All passports issued by the US State Department after January 1 will have always-on RFID chips (radio frequency identification chips), making it easier for officials – and hackers – to grab your personal stats. These are the same chips used for the “quick pass” systems in your credit cards, tied into clothing for scanning, and are one of the bigger ways Wal-mart came to be a $250 billion business.
So if you weren’t already about credit card identity theft, how about passport identity theft (who knows how much data these chips will hold). Here’s the low down of how to get around the situation (via Wired):
- 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. You’re more likely to ruin the passport itself than the chip.
- Forget about nuking it in the microwave – the chip could burst into flames, leaving telltale scorch marks. Besides, have you ever smelled burnt passport?
- The best approach? Hammer time. Hitting the chip with a blunt, hard object should disable it. A nonworking RFID doesn’t invalidate the passport, so you can still use it.
Oops, did I almost forget to say that tampering/destroying your passport will result in 25 years in jail for you — I take no responsibility. Happy smashing!