U.S. epassports do not use RFID tags. They use RF-enabled contactless smart card technology that is much more secure and powerful than RFID.
RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) tags broadcast an unencrypted ID number using radio waves. Used mostly in manufacturing, shipping and object-related tracking, they can be read at long distances of 30 feet or more and offer minimal security and privacy protection.
In contrast, think of RF-enabled contactless smart card technology as a computer with security software and wireless communication for very short distances of an inch or two. These advanced capabilities make the epassport a more secure travel document than a conventional passport, and protect the privacy and safety of the passport holder.
For example, the smart card chip contains special digital “seals” used to prove the authenticity of the epassport and the stored information about the owner to border control agents. Before it will communicate with a passport terminal, it checks for a key that is unique to each epassport. In addition, it can scramble, or encrypt, data it sends to passport terminals at border control.
These advanced digital security techniques are not possible using RFID tags.
Want to learn more about how the epassport protects your privacy and safety? Read JustAskGemalto.com’s Tutorial on the U.S. Electronic Passport