Smart Card Alliance Proposes Contactless Technology to DHS


The Smart Card Alliance is proposing contactless smart-card technology for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) People Access Security Service (PASS) card program. The Alliance has offered a paper titled “Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative PASS Card: Recommendations for Using Secure Contactless Technology vs. RFID” in which it disagrees with the current DHS technology choice of EPC Gen2, a type of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

This technology allows cards to be read at a distance of up to 30 feet, which raises security and privacy concerns for the Alliance members as well as other organizations. To back up their position, the Alliance report presents alternative operational scenarios. The conclusion of the report is that contactless smart-card technology best meets the objectives of the PASS card program, which is to secure U.S. borders without compromising personal privacy or impeding the flow of people as they cross the border.

The report strongly recommends a technology trial to evaluate the performance of ISO/IEC 14443-based contactless technology—the same technology used in the new ePassport – vs. the EPC Gen 2 RFID technology being considered by DHS, before the final implementation decision for the WHTI PASS card program.

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