EPIC FOIA Notes #14
November 20, 2006

E-Passports Less Reliable Than Traditional Passports

SNAPSHOT [click for full document]

A document obtained by EPIC from the State Department reveals that 2004 government tests found passports with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips that are read 27% to 43% less successfully than the previous Machine Readable Zone technology (two lines of text printed at the bottom of the first page of a passport).

The use of RFID technology in passports.

The State Department has begun issuing "e-passports," with personal data embedded on RFID chips, saying they would be more secure and faster to process. Previous documents obtained by EPIC under the FOIA showed that the same tests found the chip readers "require too much attention and time on the part of the inspector."

The test results show that e-passports are not as reliable as traditional passports. Recent reports by the Department of Homeland Security Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee and European experts also recommend against the use of RFID tags in identity documents.


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