US issues first RFID passports

After an on-again, off-again review process that finally culminated with full State Department approval last year, the US government has finally issued its first passports containing RFID chips. The embedded chips in the new passports -- which are being issued to a group of diplomats as part of a pilot program -- contain the same information that's in the printed document, including a photo of the passport holder. Government officials have said that the use of the RFID chip allows passports to be scanned and cross-referenced with security databases more easily, while privacy advocates have argued they'll make it easier for identity thieves and terrorists to extract information -- especially after a security firm successfully demonstrated that they were able to crack the encryption used on prototype Dutch RFID passports. Despite such concerns, the new passports are scheduled to be rolled out nationally in October.