US issues RFID Passports

The US has began issuing passports with RFID chips. They are initially being rolled out on a pilot program to a select group of US diplomats. Due to be launched nationwide in October, the RFID chips contain all the personal information printed inside the passport, as well as a photograph of the passport holder. Scanners at ports of entry will access the data on the RFID chips and compare them with a national database for identity verification.

The government and supporters of the new passports say they will be a minimal burden to travelers, while enhancing border security and reducing the possibility of identity fraud. Privacy groups insist that the new passports will make it easier for identities to be stolen and the information contained on the chips to be compromised. As a validation of these concerns, a Dutch security lab broke the encryption planned for use in Dutch RFID passports.