The new regulations will mean that all new and renewing U.S. passports will contain RFID chips by October 2006. While some believe this is a step forward, there are major privacy and security issues with the wireless technology. The chips are normally read from a distance of four to six inches, however at Black Hat in Las Vegas this year, security researcher Kevin Mahaffey demonstrated the ability to read an RFID tag up to fifty feet away. Mahaffey also offered a number of points on why RFID chips are a security risk (PDF) when used in passports.
The new U.S. passports are expected to start appearing in public hands by early 2006, with all American passports to contain RFID chips by October of that year.
Posted by: Kelly Martin