RFID Passports & the Need for Values in Design

Prof. Ed Felten has an excellent post on the RFID-enabled passports debate, criticising the decision to use RFID (contactless) technology rather than a more secure contact technology, such as smart card standards.

His closing statements struck me:

It seems that the decision to use contactless technology was made without fully understanding its consequences, relying on technical assurances from people who had products to sell. Now that the problems with that decision have become obvious, it’s late in the process and would be expensive and embarrassing to back out. In short, this looks like another flawed technology procurement program.

This is a case where our Values in Design concept was needed:

How do we ensure a place for values, alongside technical standards such as speed, efficiency, and reliability, as criteria by which we judge quality and acceptability of computer and information systems and new media? How do values such as privacy, autonomy, democracy, and social justice become integral to conception, design, and development, not merely retrofitted after completion?

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