The Corner

U.S.

Feds Aren’t Verifying Passport Data

(Pixabay)

Is there any agency in American law enforcement actually doing its job? Today in Wired:

Passports, like any physical ID, can be altered and forged. That’s partly why for the last 11 years the United States has put RFID chips in the back panel of its passports, creating so-called e-Passports. The chip stores your passport information — like name, date of birth, passport number, your photo, and even a biometric identifier — for quick, machine-readable border checks. And while e-Passports also store a cryptographic signature to prevent tampering or forgeries, it turns out that despite having over a decade to do so, US Customs and Border Protection hasn’t deployed the software needed to actually verify it.

This means that since as far back as 2006, a skilled hacker could alter the data on an e-Passport chip — like the name, photo, or expiration date — without fear that signature verification would alert a border agent to the changes. That could theoretically be enough to slip into countries that allow all-electronic border checks, or even to get past a border patrol agent into the US.

In a “WTF?” letter, Senators Wyden and McCaskill report that the relevant federal staff “lacks the technical capabilities to verify e-passport chips.”

All in, national-security spending is damn near $1 trillion a year. The average annual federal compensation package is somewhere north of $120,000 per worker. And we can’t even properly manage passport control.

Most Popular

PC Culture

When PC Comes Back to Bite You

Political correctness run amok is a popular topic on the right these days. Indeed, the conservative bookshelf is chock full of best-sellers devoted to the topic. Subject matters vary. One may focus on the hypocrisy of campus speech codes, another on the revisionist attempt to indict our founding fathers, yet ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Charles Krauthammer, R.I.P.

It’s not often that the loss of an opinion writer can be said to be a loss for the country, but that is true of Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist who died yesterday. In a fractured media environment where almost no one commands universal respect, where crudity of expression and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Time Stands by Misleading Cover Photo

Time magazine on Friday defended its decision to feature a photo of a crying toddler who was never separated from her mother on the cover of its July issue detailing family separations at the border. “The June 12 photograph of the 2-year-old Honduran girl became the most visible symbol of the ongoing ... Read More