I googled and discovered there's a computer chip in the new passports. That gold box on the front lets us know about it. It's at the bottom with a circle and lines.
Procrastination worked against me since I should have renewed it before the end of 20o6. Bruce Schneier wrote this September, 2006, in The Washington Post
If you have a passport, now is the time to renew it -- even if it's not set to expire anytime soon. If you don't have a passport and think you might need one, now is the time to get it. In many countries, including the United States, passports will soon be equipped with RFID chips. And you don't want one of these chips in your passport.Read more HERE and HERE or google and find out more to tell us about.
RFID stands for "radio-frequency identification." Passports with RFID chips store an electronic copy of the passport information: your name, a digitized picture, etc. And in the future, the chip might store fingerprints or digital visas from various countries.
By itself, this is no problem. But RFID chips don't have to be plugged in to a reader to operate. Like the chips used for automatic toll collection on roads or automatic fare collection on subways, these chips operate via proximity. The risk to you is the possibility of surreptitious access: Your passport information might be read without your knowledge or consent by a government trying to track your movements, a criminal trying to steal your identity or someone just curious about your citizenship.
I don't recall reading or hearing anything about this. Do any of you?
Computer scientists, however, have criticized that encryption method as flawed. In a recent paper (PDF here), RSA Laboratories' Ari Juels, and University of California's David Molnar and David Wagner, warned that the design of the encryption keys is insufficiently secure. They said that the use of a "single fixed key" for the lifetime of the e-passport creates a vulnerability.
The Bush administration could face an eventual legal challenge. A letter to the State Department from privacy groups (PDF here) says there is "no statutory authority" for the RFID passport because Congress has not authorized it.
"Our point is, whatever Congress may have meant in giving the State Department authority to issue passports was probably to issue passports that were like the old passports," said Lee Tien, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which co-authored the comments. "But at some point you are doing something that is significantly different, which should probably require some sort of additional congressional authorization. The argument is how broadly does that authority go, and honestly, it's something no one knows."