Is the Home Office's Android NFC Passport Reader App an ID Thief's Wet Dream?

By Gary Cutlack on at

First of all, did you know there's an NFC chip in passports these days? Wow. That's clever. I should get out more and to the types of places you can't get to by waving a library card at security staff. Secondly, the Home Office has released an Android app you can use to read the data stored within your passport's NFC chip, but there's one peculiar catch...

To actually access the NFC chip's content you have to first enter the details on the actual passport. Like, you have to manually type in your name and password number in order to allow your phone to connect to it and display... your name and password number. Which sounds amazingly futile, especially as the government's app team is putting some tech out there that has the potential to be hacked into something rather more malicious.

The developer is hedging rather heavily over on the Google Play listing, acknowledging that it's pretty useless and saying: "This app is a proof of concept and was built to allow us to explore this technology. We know that there are many things it could do which it does not do, and there are some things it does do which could be done better. The methods it uses to read the chip are public domain."

And at least it's a way to check your NFC chip is actually working, seeing as no one seems to be using them for anything else. [Google Play via The Register]