The UK has been issuing RFID enabled passports for the past several months; and today it was anounced that the US will soon begin using this technology as well, despite warnings that the signal is hackable.
As stated in this article, an independent security firm overseas has already cloned a passport and the cloned chip can be used to fool any device looking to verify the contents of the signal.
The US State Department has done its own testing of RFID technology over the last year, and they say that “electronic passports improve security by making it harder to forge or alter such documents. All personal information on a chip must precisely match that in the printed portion of the electronic passport.” Which may be true so long as we stick to the ‘contact’ style RFID chips, which need to be within 4 inches of the receiving device; but with the US pushing hard to switch to ‘contactless’ chips, which broadcast their signal to nearby receivers, I personally feel that we will soon hear of hackers who are wirelessly downloading the information from passports, then later reading said information and simply forging a printed passport with the exact information and a copy of the cloned chip.
I also feel that, once introduced to the public, RFID won’t stop with passports, and that a world full of RFID tags, as presented in SR4, is closer than we think.