Department of State Offers Update on Development of Electronic Passport

New rules apply to recording data on passport chip and reading data from that chip

   Consequently, we have decided not to change the basic characteristics of the chip that we will use in the electronic passport or the data that it will contain. We will, as explained above, incorporate additional technology, including the anti-skimming material and BAC, to address concerns about skimming and eavesdropping. This will not require any change in the general definition of "electronic passport" contained in the proposed regulation. In this final rule, we have made a technical change to the language of the proposed definition to state that the chip will digitally carry information from the data page, a biometric version of the bearer's photo and coding protections.

   Again, we believe that the measures described in this rule adequately address the concerns raised by comments regarding RFID technology.

Religious Objections

   A small number of comments objected to the electronic passport due to religious beliefs. Without in any way passing judgment upon their beliefs, we do not consider these objections a basis for not proceeding with the proposed rule.

General Objections To Use of the Electronic Chip and Passport

   Some comments stated that they objected to use of the electronic chip and passport, but did not give specific reasons for their objections. As a result, the Department is unable to formulate a useful response to their objections.

Regulatory Findings

Administrative Procedure Act

   The Department is publishing this rule as a final rule, after publishing a proposed rule, allowing a 45-day provision for public comments, and consideration of all comments received. The Department provided for a shorter comment period than the 60 days suggested by Section 6(a) of E.O.

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