As a Security Measure, Congress has legislated that all countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program with the United States must issue passports with Integrated Circuits (chips), to permit storage of at least a digital image of the passport photograph for use with face recognition technology
Biometric Technology in PassportsA Biometric or biometric identifier is a measurable physical or behavioral characteristic of an individual, which can be used to verify the identity of that individual or to compare against other entries when stored in a database. Biometrics includes Face Recognition, Fingerprints, and Iris Scans. The U.S. Electronic Passport uses the digital image of the passport photograph as the biometric identifier that is used with face recognition technology to verify the identity of the passport bearer. It has Contactless chip technology that allows the information stored in an Electronic Passport to be read by special chip readers at a close distance; and Digital Signature Technology that is used to verify the authenticity of the data stored on the chip. This technology is commonly used in Credit Cards and other secure documents using integrated circuits or chips.
The Controversy of RFID PassportsA lot of people falsely claim that somehow the government is tracking your every move by remotely scanning the RFID Tag from the card in your wallet or from your passport. Some people also falsely claim that the tags pose a serious threat to the security of your personal information. Firstly, let me start by saying that the passive RFID tags in ID cards and passports can only be read from a very short distance of a few centimeters (a couple of inches). It is impossible to Remotely Track someone with the RFID chips in their pockets. You would literally have to be right on top of somebody to scan any RFID tags on their person. The people who make false claims about government tracking and Security Threats are who most logical and reasoned people refer to as 'conspiracy nuts', or if you prefer the more politically correct term, 'Conspiracy Theorists'.