Friday, November 24, 2006

Getting A Passport? Do It NOW.

In a variation on the "Friday Afternoon News Dump" -- where a press release is issued late in the day, hoping the importance of the story will be lost over the weekend -- our friends at the Department of Homeland Security announced the official requirement for citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda to present a passport to enter the United States when arriving by air from any part of the Western Hemisphere beginning January 23, 2007.

If you've been thinking about getting a passport, now is the time to do it. Starting in (I believe) mid-2007, new passports will include an RFID chip (radio frequency identification), the same technology used to prevent theft of small-package, high-ticket retail items like CDs and DVDs. One of the security experts (probably Bruce Schneier) pointed that that the current RFID technology potentially allows these "tagged" passports to be read by unauthorized devices (leaving the holder open to really horrendous ID theft problems). Schneier (assuming it was he) recommended that passports be obtained now, before the RFID requirement kicks in, adding that by the time the passport needs to be renewed (ten years after issuance), the RFID technology -- and security of the data on the chip -- should have improved considerably.

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