Tag Archives | Passports

Artist Neil Harbisson Is The World’s First Legally-Recognized Cyborg

harbisson Dezeen writes that the sensory augmentation device worn by the completely colorblind Harbisson is now recognized by authorities as part of his face:

Barcelona-based Harbisson wears a head-mounted antenna attached to a chip at the back of his skull that allows him to perceive colours. Harbisson charges his eyeborg via a USB power cable that attaches to the back of his head.

Harbisson wears the “eyeborg” headset to overcome a visual impairment called achromatopsia, which means he sees the world in shades of grey. The eyeborg turns colours into sounds, allowing him to “hear” them.

After a long battle with the UK authorities, Harbisson’s passport now carries a photo of him wearing his eyeborg, making him the world’s first government-recognised cyborg. In 2010, Harbisson founded the Cyborg Foundation – an organisation whose mission statement is to “help humans become cyborgs, to promote the use of cybernetics as part of the human body and to defend cyborg rights.”

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Why Snowden’s Passport Matters

Gov-us_passportWhen the State Department revoked Edward Snowden’s passport four months ago, the move was a reprisal from a surveillance-and-warfare state that operates largely in the shadows. Top officials in Washington were furious. Snowden had suddenly exposed what couldn’t stand the light of day, blowing the cover of the world’s Biggest Brother.

Cancelation of the passport wasn’t just an effort to prevent the whistleblower from getting to a country that might grant political asylum. It was also a declaration that the U.S. government can nullify the right to travel just as surely as it can nullify the right to privacy.

“Although I am convicted of nothing,” Snowden said in a July 1 statement after a week at a Moscow airport terminal, the U.S. government “has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody.… Read the rest

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Peace Activist And World Passport Creator Garry Davis Dies

garry davisA man born before his time? The Los Angeles Times writes:

Gary Davis, who registered himself and more than 950,000 others as “world citizens,” was an activist who founded the World Government of World Citizens, which issues its own “world passports,” visas, birth certificates and other documents in an effort to rise above national borders and the conflicts they breed.

Sometimes the documents work and sometimes they don’t — Davis was jailed at least 32 times — but his broader aim was to draw attention to what he saw as the violent lunacy of nationalism.

“Contrary to most people in the world who want to make world peace and who say that love is the answer, he realized the answer is political,” said his son Troy. “It’s not just love your neighbor. You have to change the system.”

Arthur Kanegis, a San Diego filmmaker who has a documentary about Davis in production, said, “He used to say: ‘The World Passport is a joke — but so are all the other passports.

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CIA’s Secret Fear: High-Tech Border Checks Will Blow Spies’ Cover

EyeScanThe Watchmen’s tools working against the Watchers? Jeff Stein writes on WIRED’s Danger Room:

When Tom Cruise had to break into police headquarters in Minority Report, the futuristic crime thriller, he got past the iris scanners with ease: He just swapped out his eyeballs.

CIA agents may find that just a little beyond the call of duty. But meanwhile, they’ve got to come up with something else: The increasing deployment of iris scanners and biometric passports at worldwide airports, hotels and business headquarters, designed to catch terrorists and criminals, are playing havoc with operations that require CIA spies to travel under false identities.

Busy spy crossroads such as Dubai, Jordan, India and many EU points of entry are employing iris scanners to link eyeballs irrevocably to a particular name. Likewise, the increasing use of biometric passports, which are embedded with microchips containing a person’s face, sex, fingerprints, date and place of birth, and other personal data, are increasingly replacing the old paper ones.

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‘X’ Now A Gender Option In Australian Passports

737450-3x2-940x627A forward-thinking move, as the gender-ambiguous can now classify themselves as ‘X’. Still no “android” or “monkey-man” passport options, though. Associated Press reports:

Australian passports will now have three gender options – male, female and indeterminate – under new guidelines to remove discrimination against transgender and intersex people, the government said Thursday. Intersex people, who are biologically not entirely male or female, will be able to list their gender on passports as “X.”

Previously, gender was a choice of only male or female, and people were not allowed to change their gender on their passport without having had a sex-change operation. The U.S. dropped the surgery prerequisite for transgender people’s passports last year.

Any country that complies with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s specifications for machine-readable passports can choose to introduce a gender “X.”

“‘X’ is really quite important because there are people who are indeed genetically ambiguous and were probably arbitrarily assigned as one sex or the other at birth,” Pratt said.

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