RFID and Government-Issued Identity Documents

Governments issue RFID technology for identification documents such as passports, driver's licenses and national ID cards.

Estabishing a secure identity is a critical issue for citizens, governments, enterprises and any organization that offers rights and privileges for individuals. Identity is important when determining voting rights, allowing access to buildings and computer systems, issuing driving privileges, authorizing financial transactions, obtaining medical services, enabling travel and facilitating many life activities.

Identity and identification documents may be factors in crimes involving identity fraud.  Identity fraud causes sizable financial loss and can be misused as a tool of terrorism. The ability to obtain or create credible counterfeit documents and/or the ability to obtain genuine identity documents under false pretenses are threats to identification security.

Governments and organizations providing rights and privileges have a need to protect the identity and a need to know with certainty the identities of those in their constituency. Protecting one’s identity depends both on personal effort and on the practices, policies, and systems of the organizations to which one entrusts personal information. Individuals must exchange identity information and personal data almost daily with other individuals and with organizations. Individuals constantly risk losing control of identity information and must rely on the organizations protect the information which the individual has given.

Identity theft and identity fraud create tangible and intangible costs to society.  Governments and organizations that want to protect against identity fraud are taking more aggressive steps to secure personal information and to implement identity systems that improve identity verification processes.

To design and implement secure identity systems, organizations should map the entire identity process and the related chain of trust. A complete identity solution must include policies, procedures, and practices that implement the desired level of security and that describe how people interact with the identity system. Identity systems must begin with accurate vetting of the individual’s identity and follow with identity verification processes that provide secure, authorized access to identity information.

Many different kinds of technology are available - RFID, smart cards and biometrics are several of the technologies that may be used to achieve overall identification and authentication goals and enforce adherence to the chosen privacy and security policies.