The State Department of the United States plans to start issuing Passports with embedded RFID tags later this year. The tags will store all information that is printed on a Passport and also a digital facial scan of the Passport holder. The information will not be encrypted.
This scheme compromises the Passport holderís privacy because the unencrypted information can be read by a rogue reader without the holderís knowledge or approval. The State Department claims that RFID will increase security and also make border crossing faster and more efficient. Itís not clear that RFID accomplishes either goal.
Placing a sophisticated RFID tag in a Passport might make the Passport somewhat more difficult to counterfeit. In the long run, it will probably just force the counterfeiters to become somewhat more sophisticated. Storing the information without encryption does not improve security and puts the Passport holder at risk. Allowing Passports to be scanned with RFID is not inherently faster than Bar Codes that are used today at border crossings.
Various organizations have weighed in on this issue, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Privacilla.org