200903230015.jpgThere is a fairly confusing article on EDLs that was published by the Times & Transcript’s Alan Cochrane. It’s absolutely rife with inaccuracies about the technologies about EDLs, which contributes to the rampant misinformation about these identification pieces. Before I get to that, I want to note pieces of information that look interesting, though their accuracy has to be taken as questionable given the sloppy work done throughout the article.

Of interest:

  1. Apparently the New Brunswick government’s support of EDLs has ‘waned’ after receiving some report or another. While the reporter doesn’t mention the report by name, I have a suspicion that it’s the report commissioned by the Atlantic registrars of motor vehicles that was referenced in the May 9, 2008 press release of the Council of Atlantic Premiers. That report has not been disclosed to the public. (I lack anything that would substantiate or disprove the claim that New Brunswick’s interest has waned; I also don’t know what the report stated and so can’t know if it would influence the government’s position.)
  2. Service Nova Scotia has stated that the province is looking into EDLs, but as of yet does not have a deployment timeline. (I lack information that would substantiate or disprove this claim.)
  3. Manitoba is taking applications for EDLs right now, and will begin shipping them in 2 weeks. (This definitely seems on the money, and we can presume that it is accurate.)

Of course, we have to wonder whether or not these items are actually true given the gross misinformation surrounding these elements of the article. In particular, the author fails to identify what data is contained within, or emitted from, the EDL (i.e. the proxy identifier), fails to accurately identify the privacy risks that advocates have noted, and implies that EDLs will speed up border crossing times (to date, it looks like it only shaves about .8 seconds off each border cross).

My problem is that while the author makes it seem like EDLs are particularly risky from a privacy point of view (which they are), what he is actually talking about are ePassports (and similar smart cards). EDLs are not smart cards! They’re an entirely different beast, using EPC Gen 2 RFIDs, rather than the smart card standard.