Getting a new passport is typically a once-in-a-decade task. We occassionally have to travel internationally, so we like to keep ours up-to-date. One of our editors' passport expired last June. As we all have plans to travel to Bermuda later this year, he realized he better get his act together and get it renewed.
There were a few stories last year about the long wait for getting a passport. We are happy to report that the backlog is apparently gone. The entire process took less than three weeks. This is pretty good for dealing with the government :-)
The new passport may look similar to the old one, but quite a bit more technology has been incorporated in it. The new cover is noticeably thicker than the old one. In fact, the entire passport is almost twice as thick compared to the old one. The biggest change is actually not visible. It is a RFID tag embedded into the cover of the passport. Where it is exactly in the cover is not clear, but it is in there somewhere.
The other new technology involves the passport photo. Old passports have the photo laminated on the information page. This is an obvious security limitation. The new photos are digitally printed onto the page, making any attempt to change the photo much more difficult. Incorporated into the page are also a number of security features (microprinting, watermarks, textured lamination, etc...). While no security measures are foolproof, this new passport looks to be pretty hack-proof. However, the security of the new passport is designed to thwart counterfeiters, not identy thieves. The RFID tag contains the user's personal info in electronic form. Indentity theft concerns have been raised regarding these RFID tags. Is the personal information encrypted or stored in plain-text? If encrypted, how strong is the encryption? We'll answer those questions and how to mitigate any identity theft issues in a future article. [Permalink]- New passport