Vive Le Canada

New passports to include electronic data
Date: Wednesday, January 03 2007

New passports to include electronic data
Chips cause concern for some

RFID chips are coming to your passport.

Wal-Mart and other retailers have been using the radio frequency identification chips for years to track inventory.

SunPass uses them to let you pay for tolls and parking without having to fork over cash.

In Hong Kong, they're used for everything from transit fare to fast-food restaurants, vending machines and supermarkets.

RFID chips are small electronic devices, not much larger or thicker than a product label, with a built-in antenna and the ability to communicate electronically by transmitting a signal to a receiver. The chip can contain and convey basic identification information.

The U.S. Department of State is now implementing a rule, adopted in 2005, under which RFID chips will be embedded in all passports issued in the United States.

The requirement is part of an effort to develop electronic passports with global interoperability. The International Civil Aviation Organization has developed standards to assure consistency across the globe.

Some countries have already begun embedding such chips in passports. For instance, Malaysia has had RFIDs in their passports since 1998, and all new passports issued by the U.K. now have RFID chips. Starting next month, all U.S. passports will also have the electronic tags.

"The U.S. is adopting the 'e-Passports,'" said Jennifer Connors, Chief Customs and Border Protection officer in Miami.

"In Europe, many countries did not require you to have a visa to enter. Most have now adopted the e-Passport," she explained. U.S. documents will also meet the new e-Passport requirements. In the future, the chips may also contain information such as a digitized photo, fingerprints or a retinal (eye) scan that can be read by a machine to compare with the person seeking entry. "This will help reduce passport fraud."


This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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