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U.S. Passports to Receive Electronic Identification Chips
The chip itself will be embedded in the back cover of a newly designed passport, and the anti-skimming film will be in both the front and back covers, reducing the chance of interception when someone is standing in a passport line.
According to the filing, the passport needs to be within inches of the reader in order to work.
The department rejected calls to encrypt, or scramble, the data on the passport. Instead, the transmission stream when the data is passing from the passport to the reader will be encrypted.
The department also rejected some calls for using a smart-card-type chip that must come into contact with the reader, as opposed to a radio frequency identification chip that can be read at a distance. The department said smart-card chips do not lend themselves to being put into a book-like document such as a passport.
The chips will have enough memory so additional biometric information could be added in the future.
But the department said it has no plans to include personal information such as Social Security numbers on the chips.
Ari Schwartz, associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a digital-policy group, said he had not yet studied the department filing.
But he said it was a "risky strategy" without first testing the system on a large scale.