On No2ID this story was posted:
The Register reports that researchers at Riscure have managed to crack biometric data held on Dutch passports from a distance of 10 metres. If this research proves to be correct, identity thieves could therefore skim all details carried on the passports without the carrier’s knowledge.
In another article we see how Andy Burnham is desparately trying to disassociate the national identity cards beast from the term RFID, without actually removing contactless readable chips from the cards and passports themselves.
Are UK identity card/biometric passport proposals any more robust than Dutch passports?
Putting aside the issues of the ID card itself (more to the point, the database behind it - a supreme target for attack) having RFID in the cards would be a supremely bad move, for many reasons. For example, such a chip would allow the naughty people to pick certain nationalities out from a crowd. One could imagine a bomb which only went off then X people of a certain nationality were nearby.
The UK government recognises some of the problems, 'the Home Office isn't using RFID tags, but is using a "chip with a radio frequency contactless interface", so that's all right then. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and quacks like a duck....
The effects of RFID can be mitigated by using a faraday cage, i.e. one can imagine wallets with a thin metallic lining hidden in the leather, this would block radio frequency signals unless the wallet were opened or the card removed - if the RFID chip idea ever sees the light of day then there is a marketing opportunity there... I do hope it's one that doesn't come to fruition!