Canadian Press reports, “In a move unprecedented for the Olympics, tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies are embedded with a microchip containing the bearer’s photograph, passport details, addresses, e-mail and telephone numbers.” Including such sensitive personal data on a chip that wirelessly transmits this data without strong security is a recipe for identity theft. Radio frequency identification (“RFID”) technology is wireless, so it is unseen. You know if someone steals your wallet because it’s not in your pocket or purse anymore, but how do you know if someone intercepts your RFID transmission and gathers your passport details off the ticket that you still carry?
China had considered linking individuals with each of the 6.8 million tickets, but decided against it. A similar plan was attempted at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Tickets were to include RFID tags that would enable authorities to track the movements of each individual spectator during the games. The application forms for World Cup tickets required a large amount of personal data, including passport number, nationality, and birthdate.
Germany scrapped the plan after encountering logistical problems that caused long lines and receiving protests from fans and the FIFA, soccer’s governing body. Previously, I discussed China’s increasing surveillance society, including its growing CCTV systems, and the State Department’s warning to Olympics spectators about surveillance in the country.