Daily Archives: January 9, 2008

New chipped North American passports unencrypted and readable 30 feet away

The North American Union is being implemented gradually by stealth without the consent of the American people as part of the secret agenda for global government. The North American passcard is essentially the NAU ID.

Passport card with chatty RFID chip draws privacy ire

Computerworld | Jan 8, 2008

New chipped passcards are unencrypted and readable up to 30 feet away

by Jaikumar Vijayan

January 08, 2008  (Computerworld) — A proposed new RFID-enabled passport card intended for use by Americans frequently travelling to Canada, Mexico. Bermuda and the Caribbean poses serious security and privacy risks for users, the Centers for Democracy and Technology (CDT) warned this week.

Among the concerns are the potential for the card to be used for location tracking by government and private entities and the relative ease with which it can be manipulated for identity theft purposes, the CDT said.

The Washington-based think tank’s warning was prompted by a final ruling in the Federal Register from the U.S. Department of State on Dec. 31 calling for the use of so-called “vicinity read” radio frequency identification technology on proposed new passport cards. The department first announced plans to use RFID chips for new passport cards back in October 2006 and has been going through a process of collecting and responding to comments on its plans.

The identification cards would be needed by residents who don’t have passports for verifying their identity at land, air and sea border crossings and are to be issued as part of the Departments of State and Homeland Security’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, or WHTI. The credit-card sized passport cards will use vicinity-read RFID technology that allow them to be read from at least 20 to 30 feet away by customs and border-protection officials. The goal is to substantially reduce wait times at the border by allowing officials to access and queue up a border crosser’s information even before they reach the official.

The approach is substantially different from the proximity-read technology being used in U.S. electronic passports, and it offers fewer protections, according to Ari Schwartz, deputy director at the CDT. Electronic passports contain all of the same identification data that appears on the first page of a passport, and includes a digital photograph and a digital signature. But the information on those chips is encrypted at all times and can only be accessed by physically swiping the card through a reader at the border crossing.

In contrast, said Schwartz, the proposed RFID-enabled passport cards can be read from a distance, and without user notice, consent or control over when the information is collected. Additionally, information from the card is transmitted in the clear — that is, without encryption. The RFID technology itself is also more susceptible to electronic eavesdropping and hacking, which makes the cards less tamper resistant compared to electronic passports, he said.

“So you have a situation where you are sending out identity information in the clear over a long distance,” using a less-than-secure technology, Schwartz said.

The State Department itself has said that the passport cards will not contain any identity information such as name, date of birth, social security number, or place of birth.

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US Ranks Last Among Other Industrialized Nations On Preventable Deaths

ScienceDaily | Jan 8, 2008

ScienceDaily (Jan. 8, 2008) — The United States places last among 19 countries when it comes to deaths that could have been prevented by access to timely and effective health care, according to new research.  While other nations dramatically improved these rates between 1997–98 and 2002–03, the U.S. improved only slightly.

If the U.S. had performed as well as the top three countries out of the19 industrialized countries in the study there would have been 101,000 fewer deaths in the U.S. per year by the end of the study period. The top performers were France, Japan, and Australia.

In “Measuring the Health of Nations: Updating an Earlier Analysis,” Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine compare trends in deaths that could have been prevented by access to timely and effective health care. Specifically, they looked at deaths “amenable to health care before age 75 between 1997–98 and 2002–03.”

Nolte and McKee found that while other countries made strides and saw these types of deaths decline by an average of 16%, the U.S. experienced only a 4% decline. “It is notable that all countries have improved substantially except the U.S.,” said Nolte, lead author of the study. The authors also note that “it is difficult to disregard the observation that the slow decline in U.S. amenable mortality has coincided with an increase in the uninsured population, an issue that is now receiving renewed attention in several states and among presidential candidates from both parties.”

“It is startling to see the U.S. falling even farther behind on this crucial indicator of health system performance,” said Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen. “By focusing on deaths amenable to health care, Nolte and McKee strip out factors such as population and lifestyle differences that are often cited in response to international comparisons showing the U.S. lagging in health outcomes. The fact that other countries are reducing these preventable deaths more rapidly, yet spending far less, indicates that policy, goals, and efforts to improve health systems make a difference.”

In 1997–98 the U.S. ranked 15th out of 19 countries on the “mortality amenable to health care” measure. However, by 2002–03 the U.S. fell to last place, with 109 deaths amenable to health care for every 100,000 people. In contrast, mortality rates per 100,000 people in the leading countries were: France (64), Japan (71), and Australia (71). The other countries included in the study were Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Study authors state that the measure of deaths amenable to health care is a valuable indicator of health system performance because it is sensitive to improved care, including public health initiatives. It considers a range of conditions from which it is reasonable to expect death to be averted even after the condition develops. This includes causes such as appendicitis and hypertension, where the medical nature of the intervention is apparent; it also includes illnesses that can be detected early with effective screenings such as cervical or colon cancer, and tuberculosis which, while acquisition is largely driven by socio-economic conditions, is not fatal when treated in a timely manner.

“Cross-national studies conducted by The Commonwealth Fund indicate that our failure to cover all Americans results in financial barriers that are much more likely to prevent many U.S. adults from getting the care they need, compared with adults in other countries,” said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. “While no one country provides a perfect model of care, there are many lessons to be learned from the strategies at work abroad.”

This research was supported by The Commonwealth Fund and published in the January/February issue of Health Affairs. The Commonwealth Fund is an independent foundation working toward health policy reform and a high performance health system.