Germans take their privacy seriously. The idea of being tracked or having their phone conversation listened in on is appalling to them and they idolize NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
Germany has a national identity card that uses contactless smart card technology to communicate via short-range RFID signals. And if there’s one thing about contactless smart cards is that they are widely misunderstood.
These contactless cards can typically only be read from a few inches away and include encryption protection so that data cannot be sniffed from them. But often individuals think that the cards have technology similar to that used on toll roads, tracking livestock or even from satellites in outer space.
Even though some German studies have disproven concerns that the microchip could be used to spy on individuals, many Germans remain cautious. Citizens haven’t been willing to use the microchip, which would enable them to fill out online forms quicker.
Since Germans love their privacy it would appear that some don’t care for the contactless cards they are carrying. On Tuesday, a 29-year old man was arrested at Frankfurt Airport after authorities noticed that he had microwaved his German identification card to disable the chip, according to a report in the Washington Post.
The man possibly faces either a fine or time in jail for illegally modifying official documents. Identification documents are state property, according to German law.
Disabling contactless chips in payments cards, national IDs or electronic passports might not be as uncommon as one thinks. Videos on Youtube have numerous examples of people either microwaving or boiling the documents. There are even videos of individuals microwaving U.S. passports.