NO2ID, the campaign against ID cards, organised a practical demonstration for The Daily Mail earlier this month to highlight the security problems of biometric passports.
"We have always campaigned under the premise that we believe the Government is using passports to get people on the national database, so passports have always been a tactical target for us," says Phil Booth, national coordinator of NO2ID.
"A number of experts support our campaign, so we have been aware for some time that the radio frequency chip contained in the new passports is vulnerable to security risks. What we wanted to do was demonstrate those risks in a practical way."
NO2ID found a volunteer to renew her passport. Once it was delivered to her home, Adam Laurie, an IT expert and NO2ID supporter, showed a Daily Mail reporter how information contained in the chip could easily be read. The chip was read through a sealed envelope, using equipment and software that are easily available.
"We had previously worked with The Guardian and took the decision not to work with another broadsheet because we wanted to reach a different audience," says Booth. "Actually demonstrating to a reporter how easily fraudsters can access the information in the new passports carried a lot more weight than just telling the Mail about it. We hit the Government where it hurts and plan to use demonstrations again."