IoT Security Blog

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The Response to the Response

Contributed by Joanne Kelleher

In response to the negative press about the U.S. Passport Cards there has been some feedback from those people involved with the program. It seems highly unusual for current and prior Government officials to write an opinion piece or a letter to the editor.

Kathy Kraninger, Director of the Screening and Coordination Office at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent a letter to the editor at The Washington Post. This letter, titled Security and Convenience at the Borders was published on Friday, January 11, 2008 in response to The Post’s 1/1/08 article Electronic Passports Raise Privacy Issues.

Ms. Kraninger says We take seriously the protection of privacy. The passport card will not contain or transmit any personally identifiable information. The chip sends a number that has meaning only to a secure database. Further, the cards will contain shields to counter any possible skimming and tracking. These and other efforts provide a significant level of privacy protection, border security and traveler convenience.
Read the full letter at:

C. Stewart Verdery Jr., who served as assistant secretary for Homeland Security for Border and Transportation Security Policy from 2003 to 2005, and is now president of the Monument Policy Group in Washington, D.C. has also shared his opinion. The Buffalo News published a special piece by Mr. Verdery on 01/20/08 called ID plan will protect border, privacy.

Mr. Verdery point out Unfortunately, just as the Homeland Security and State departments have begun to implement a thoughtful WHTI program, a handful of companies is stirring up unfounded privacy fears about the new identification documents that will make WHTI work at the border. Their lobbying campaign must be rejected, because states that fall for their rhetoric are playing a dangerous game with the economy and security of their border communities. He also says Now a coalition of companies that make identification cards with less useful technologies has begun a concerted campaign to scare border residents and politicians and explains what steps DHS is taking to protect the Passport Cards. Read more of his opinion at

Unfortunately, neither Ms. Kraninger or Mr. Verdy discuss potential security technology for these Passport Cards such as encryption, data protection or mutual authentication between the card and the readers.