Technology, Thoughts & Trinkets

Touring the digital through type

Tag: radio frequency identification

Facial Recognition and Enhanced Drivers Licenses

boyinmodelcar1912Enhanced Drivers Licenses (EDLs) have been with us for a while now, and it would appear that we’re starting to see the ‘advantages’ of EDLs in British Columbia (BC). Before getting into the how facial recognition and EDLs are being used, let’s back up and (briefly) outline what makes these new licenses special. As I wrote in “Now Showing: EDL Security Theatre“:

As of June 1, 2009, Canadians and Americans alike require an Enhanced Drivers License (EDL), a NEXUS card, a FAST card, a passport, or a Secure Certificate of Indian Status to cross a Canadian-American land border. In Canada, only Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Manitoba have moved ahead to develop provincial EDLs; the Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island governments have all decided not to provide these high tech, low privacy, cards to the constituencies (Source). To apply for an EDL in a participating province, all you need to do is undergo an intensive and extensive 30 minute face-to-face interview at your provincial equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Your reward for being verbally probed? A license that includes a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag and a biometric photograph. The RFID tag includes a unique number, like your Social Insurance Number (SIN), that is transmitted to anyone with an RFID reader. These readers can be purchased off the shelf by regular consumers, and number your EDL emits is not encrypted and does not require an authentication code to be displayed on a reader. Effectively, RFID tag numbers are easier to capture than your webmail password.

As part of the EDL process in BC, there is a capturing of facial biometric data to better authenticate license holders. I noted that I was confused about how effective such a system might be without a mass adoption of the EDL a few months ago,

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Now Showing: EDL Security Theatre

darktheatreWe’re paying for a high-tech Broadway show that’s themed around ‘security’, but we’re actually watching the equivalent of a catastrophic performance in a low budget community theatre. The price of admission? Only millions dollars and your privacy.

As of June 1, 2009, Canadians and Americans alike require an Enhanced Drivers License (EDL), a NEXUS card, a FAST card, a passport, or a Secure Certificate of Indian Status to cross a Canadian-American land border. In Canada, only Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Manitoba have moved ahead to develop provincial EDLs; the Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island governments have all decided not to provide these high tech, low privacy, cards to the constitutencies (Source). To apply for an EDL in a participating province, all you need to do is undergo an intensive and extensive 30 minute face-to-face interview at your provincial equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Your reward for being verbally probed? A license that includes a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag and a biometric photograph. The RFID tag includes a unique number, like your Social Insurance Number (SIN), that is transmitted to anyone with an RFID reader. These readers can be purchased off the shelf by regular consumers, and number your EDL emits is not encrypted and does not require an authentication code to be displayed on a reader. Effectively, RFID tag numbers are easier to capture than your webmail password.

Continue reading