[Politech] Details of how Australian "e-passports" will work [priv]

Declan McCullagh declan at well.com
Thu Feb 9 16:28:54 PST 2006

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Politech submission: Australian ePassports - Minister states
random UID used
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 2006 10:16:14 +1000
From: Irene Graham <execdir at efa.org.au>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan at well.com>


Information about the implementation of chips in Australian ePassports has
recently been provided by the Aust. Minister for Foreign Affairs in
response to
written questions asked in the Aust. Senate by Senator Natasha Stott
(Aust. Democrats).

As has been previously mentioned on Politech, e.g.
one of the concerns is whether chips emit a random or fixed UID and
whether in
fact any chip manufacturers implement random UIDs.

The Aust. Minister has stated that the chip in the Aust. ePassport emits a
random UID and that the UID does not contain any data that might allow
identification of the issuing authority (Aust. Gov) or that the chip is
in an

Obviously that info only applies to the Aust. ePassport - the U.S. and some
other countries might be implementing fixed UIDs. However, if they are not
intending to implement random UIDs, one might ask why not given such
chips are
apparently available.

The above and other Q&As about the ePassport chip implementation were
tabled in
the Aust. Senate on 9 Feb 2006. Senate Hansard page containing the Q&As
is here


While those Q&As don't state what type of chip it is, I understand it
with ISO 14443 Type B (i.e. not Type A). That's what Sharp Corporation
they were shipping to the Aust. Gov for epassport trials in late 2004
and in very late Oct 2005, Bob Nash (Assistant Secretary, Dept of Foreign
Affairs and Trade) told me during a phone conversation (in response to a
question) that the same chip is being used in the Aust. ePassports (that
commenced being issued to the general public a few days previously).

Btw, for info of people not familiar with Aust. Senate procedures, the Q&As
above are not of the type where a Minister is asked a question and
expected to
answer it immediately. The Aust. Senate has a procedure whereby any
Senator can
send written questions to a Minister and the Minister is (at least in
required to provide written answers within 30 days (which are then
tabled in the
Senate). The purpose is to enable Senators to ask detailed questions and
Ministers time, if necessary, to find out the answers from e.g.
staff. Ministers do not always answer such questions. When they do, imo
it's far
more likely than not that the answers are factual.


Irene Graham
Executive Director - Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. (EFA)
Web: <http://www.efa.org.au>

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