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Smart-Chip Technology Hits Passports

I remember in college, an almost daily prank was slipping a library book into a friend’s backpack without them knowing it. When they left the library and walked through the sensors, the unsuspecting student would be met with blaring alarms and frowns from the reference desk librarians.

I remember in college, an almost daily prank was slipping a library book into a friend’s backpack without them knowing it. When they left the library and walked through the sensors, the unsuspecting student would be met with blaring alarms and frowns from the reference desk librarians.

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USA Today reports that digital technology will be added to passports in the near future, with embedded “smart-chips” becoming standard issue as soon as February, 2006. The new technology would keep the passport owner’s personal information and picture on a chip that also carries an antenna. The information can be wirelessly transmitted to the customs officer’s computer screen.

Proponents of the smart technology say this would make it virtually impossible to forge a passport. The new, digital passport would only increase the cost of getting a passport by $12.

I would wonder if the technology is also capable of tracking the passport itself? It seems the radio frequency identification technology (RFID) might also be used to locate a particular person. Does this capability infringe on personal rights to privacy if this type of tracking capability is possible? Or do the times in which we live warrant this type of measure?

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