Canada to Debut ePassports in 2013

When I think about electronic passports, I think about how much easier life would be for everyone if such a thing became commonplace around the world. Then I learn that the ePassports that Canada intends to launch in the first quarter of 2013 will have virtually useless chips.

According to Dan Verhaeghe for Tech Vibes, the real purpose of electronic passports is security. Electronic passports will – it is hoped – prevent or at least curb fraud. The Canadian government, says Varhaeghe, reported that “The chip in the Canadian ePassport is passive, which means that it does not have a power source. It cannot transmit signals over long distances. An ePassport reader must be held within 10 centimetres of an open passport book before it can capture the information on the chip. The only information that is on the chip is the information from page two of the passport. The chip does not transmit or record any other information.”

It seems like a waste of technology. How wonderful it would be if the chip could transmit up to 50 kilometres or more. Then it could help law enforcement officers find lost or stolen passports. One thing that the ePassports could facilitate is travel back and forth between Canada and the United States … and possibly between Canada and other countries, too.

Believe it or not, ePassports aren’t new. According to the Passport Canada website, “Some 95 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and France, have been using ePassports for several years with no reported chip failures. Through a pilot project that began in January 2009, Passport Canada has already issued more than 50,000 diplomatic and special passports that contain an electronic chip, and no problems have been reported.”

The ePassports are still awaiting review by Parliament, which means Canadian citizens have time to voice their own opinions. What do you think about ePassports for everyone?