US citizens who travel frequently to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean are to have the option of electronic passports under new guidelines.
The cards can be read wirelessly from a distance of 20ft and are available only for land and sea travel.
Officials at the
Department of State hope that the cards will speed up transit through border
crossings, but some have raised privacy fears over the new devices.
The Center for Democracy and Technology said that the cards use a system designed for tracking freight, and send out data without encryption making it easy for hackers to clone identities.
"The new rule calls for the use of 'vicinity read' RFID technology without the use of encryption," said the pressure group.
"This means that the card can be read remotely at a long distance. We
strongly object to the use of a technology developed for tracking inventory, and
"It is inherently insecure and poses threats to personal privacy, including identity theft, location tracking by government and commercial entities outside the border control context, and other forms of mission creep."
The cards will cost $45, or $97 with close-range RFID reading only.
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