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US tests e-Passports

Singapore and Australia get in on the act

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The US government has started testing electronic passports which contain an RFID chip holding information and a digital photo of the passport's carrier.

The tests started yesterday at San Francisco airport, Changi Airport in Singapore and Sydney Airport in Australia. Singapore Airlines crew, some US diplomats and some citizens from Australia and New Zealand are carrying the new passports.

The tests will evaluate the impact of new equipment and software to verify the chipped passports. They will also collect information to make it easier for other countries to join the scheme and stay within international standards.

The passports contain "Basic Access Control" to counter fears that the chips could be accessed or read remotely - fears were raised that terrorists could scan for the chips to identify US citizens.

This is the second test the US has run.

Jim Williams, director of US VISIT (part of DHS), said: "The results of the previous test, held at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Sydney Airport, indicated that further testing would be beneficial to our development of a fully operational system. So we will conduct further testing to allow for the evaluation of new technologies."

Read the whole press release from the Dept of Homeland Security here.®

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