back to article US rolls out 'Vicinity RFID' to check IDs in moving vehicles

RFID technology that allows the remote identification of travellers in moving vehicles is being rolled out at US land border crossings this month. Crossing points with Canada at Blaine, and with Mexico at Nogales, came online last week, with Buffalo, Detroit and San Ysidro to follow, and a total of 39 planned. The system uses …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    A couple of pieces of foil lining your wallet should take care of anyone's ability to read this from any distance. One of the cases where a foil hat may actually be useful!

    Mine's the one inside the Faraday cage.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Were they only kidding?

    "So it's an internal passport system, one that's entirely incompatible with the biometric ID system that the US has gone to such pains to get the world to adopt. Were they only kidding, then?"

    Yes. As any Australian can probably tell you, the US brow beat the Aussies into adopting the metric system back in the 1970's. The US Congress even passed the Metric Conversion Act of 1975. Then the US Congress (that fine bastion of leadership) chickened out in the 1980's in implementing it mainly due to the US automakers balking. (Once again showing what great technology leaders & forward thinkers the US automakers are.)

  3. dervheid

    10 years 'til...

    we're all chipped at birth.

    The one with the foil lining

  4. Mad Dave

    Someone should set up a company

    Which manufactures products designed exclusively to defeat such intrusive acts.

    I'm thinking of maybe a lead lined wallet, a taser proof jacket, and whatever else you might need to stay free of unjustifiable government snooping.

  5. Martin Bjelk

    Policing opportunity

    Is it just me, or does this seem like a great opportunity for the police to trawl traffic for wanted criminals who (are stupid enough to) carry these RFID IDs (Is that RFID2 then?)? The police wouldn't even need the biometric data, just the unique ID number and the cause for being wanted...

    Or for that matter, for society to keep track of ordinary people in a way that would make Orwell cringe?

    // Mine's the one with a tinfoil wallet

  6. Tom Silver badge

    @Anonymous Coward

    (Once again showing what great technology leaders & forward thinkers the US automakers are.)??

    Ever heard of protectionism? You dont want your partners in any free trade agreement to actually be able to sell people spare parts in the auto industry! You start putting japanese parts in American cars and they might last and then wheres your job for life?

    Oh hang on...

  7. Cortland Richmond

    Catching the USSR up

    Your documents, comrade! (Only we won't have to ask.)

    Next: the propiska (residence permit) and raspredelenie (job assignment).

    "I'm sorry, Dave, I can't drive down that road..."

    404: Job site not found

    Apply within your permitted area.

  8. Dave
    Black Helicopters

    Hang on just a second...

    "The RFID chip on the card doesn't contain any personal information, only a unique identification number, and skimmers wouldn't have access to the data the number matches up with."

    So does that mean that the ID number is passed "in the clear"? If so, what's to stop someone intercepting and sending some other number? In that case; how do you validate that everything is OK because the computer will have alternative details to the person present so THEIR ID could have been forged.

    I can see it now, people intercepting and causing other peoples details to be pulled up - now prove you aren't who the computer says you are - because computers and the HUGE ID database will never lie and will always be 100% accurate....

  9. Neil

    @Mad Dave

    Too late.. look up 'Stainless steel wallets' Some has already thought of the idea.

  10. The BigYin
    Thumb Down


    Create a new offence "Failure to carry id or to positively inhibit identification". If they skim a car that clearly has 3 people in in, but only get 2 responses they can pull if over and arrest the schmuck with out ID.

    It seems that in the Land of the Free, you are just a number.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Planned obsolescence

    " in last and then wheres your job for life?"

    I think this has more to do with the downturn in car sales than the economic climate. Cars just last longer these days, while remaining comfortable, reliable and convenient, and without the tender tinkering that the iron of old (pre-70s or so) needed to stay rust-free and without any knocking ends... So people don't feel the need as much to replace or buy new. Changes in tax breaks for company cars have also put a dent in the new car market.

    It's not just about protectionism, it's about advancing development. The US manufacturers have had to compete with reliable, durable oriental imports, and even if they're not quite as good (they may be, I don't know either way), they're better than they used to be. If the average time that someone keeps a new car goes up from 4 years to 5, the number of people buying new cars has to go up 25% just to keep production at the original levels, more if you want growth.

  12. RRRoamer


    The really scary thought is how many people will think this is a GOOD idea???

    I'm not afraid of having a solid ID system (something that is actually secure for starters) as we really need it in this day and age. But an RFID system built in so they can scan the vehicle as you drive up??? I don't think so.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Bend over, citizen, here's your license

    "In addition to the PASSport card, some US states are beginning to issue Enhanced Driver's Licence/ID cards (EDL/ID), which have the PASSport RFID functionality added to a standard driver's license."

    Anyone know which US states issue this kind of license, or how to recognize one of these nasty little stealth secret police aids?

    /Mine's the one with the Bill of Rights stenciled on the back

    /Anonymous because...well, that should be fairly obvious.

  14. Tim

    Passive RFID range

    I'm rather surprised by this, afaik passive RFID chips can only be read reliably from a few cm, ou have to use active (i.e. battery powered) at the ranges the article mentions. Anyone got any info on the technology they are using?


  15. Secretgeek
    Black Helicopters

    Just as an aside.

    "Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) " - Are you serious?

    Menacing but stirring music - Cue voiceover - "Terrorists travel in cars across our borders everyday. Now, technology has the answer. With radio frequency scanning and automated security checking - you're going nowhere unless you're in whitey (WHTI)."

  16. Fred Bauer


    Only a few states seem to be issuing the Enhanced Driver's Licence/ID cards (EDL/ID). Washington was first, with New York and Vermont also issusing them. The Texas governer blocked them from being implemented there.

    Note that these are Optional, and Extra Cost, as they are designed to replace passports.

  17. Chris G Silver badge

    This could be happening in a country near you

    I have heard it mentioned that this kind of technology or something like it could be included in the induction loops embedded in the roads and used for traffic counting and controlling traffic lights. I would be very interested if anyone has any info on this as I am trying to sell large scale databases to the British government and something like this would need another one to keep track of where everyone has been in their cars.

  18. Pierre

    Still some pork in the barrel

    "Were they only kidding, then?"

    No, they were pouring some serious tax money down the throat of their (and their friends') companies, while pretending to care about some invented threat. Now there is some pork left, so...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's a great idea!

    ... and bust any who happen to be flagged as terrorists ...

    Wow, there's an awesome idea! Give all the terrorists ID cards that identify them as terrorists! Think how much easier it will be to catch them once they're forced to carry their IDs and show them at the border!

  20. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Time for a foil-lined wallet.

    "The RFID chip on the card doesn't contain any personal information, only a unique identification number, and skimmers wouldn't have access to the data the number matches up with.

    The system is intended to work like this. As a vehicle approaches the border post, the numbers of the cards inside it are read, and pictures and data on the holders are called up from a database."...

    from a database, that they supposedly don't have access too according to the assurance literally two sentences previous. If I "have" to get one of these I'm certainly getting a foil-lined wallet.

  21. wsm

    RFID blocking...

    Where have you people been. I got mine long ago:

    No need for the special coat if you carry the right wallet.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    We're not allowed to have UK style ID cards....

    ...what with this being the land of the free and all that. So what we're getting is "Enhanced Driver's Licenses".

    The UK Id people need to work on their Marketing.

  23. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Thumb Down

    Land of the...

    ..freely scanned and home of the RFID

  24. Jeffrey Nonken

    @The BigYin

    "It seems that in the Land of the Free, you are just a number." -The BigYin

    "I am not a number! I am a free man!" -Number 6

    "Hah hah hah hah hah hah!" -Number 2

  25. Andy Davies


    why tinfoil? - a car, especially one with heated screens, ain't that far short of a Faraday cage already. Vapourware and security pork anyone?

    AndyD 8-)#

  26. An nonymous Cowerd

    @Passive RFID range

    it is basic supermarket passive technology, lives around 900MHz, with a big power amplifier and array antennas , cryo LNA, could be pushed to be read at around 8 metres (IMHO).

    referring to "EPC RFID Tags in Security Applications: Passport Cards, Enhanced Drivers Licenses, and Beyond" <>

    more interesting is if US CBP have got round to disabling the KILL function yet?

    quote from above paper "Kill-PIN selection

    The KILL PIN is unprogrammed and not locked on the Washington State EDLs. We have verified that we can directly write this 32-bit KILL PIN."

  27. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Internal passports ?

    You mean like Soviet Russia ?

    Can you hear that ? It's the sound of a whole dynasty of Soviet rulers laughing their coffins off.

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