Congress Fears New Credit Card-Sized Electronic Passports Vulnerable to Hackers

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Electronic passports for U.S. travelers frequenting Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean soon will replace the old-style paper identification, but some think the cards could fall prey to counterfeiters, The Washington Times reported.

The State Department soon will begin making the credit card-sized ID, which has a photo of the user and a radio frequency identification chip that holds information about its owner. The first cards will be issued in July, the story reported.

But security experts warn the picture can be removed with a solvent and replaced with another, and the cards are easily duplicated, The Washington Times reported.

In an April 25 letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, 18 Congress members voiced concerns over the Passport Card, saying it will be used as "proof of citizenship and identity in everyday transactions; as a proof of identity in [Transportation Security Administration] lines, to enter federal buildings, to engage in financial transactions, and to obtain driver's licenses."

Seventeen Republicans and one Democrat signed the correspondence.

"We have serious concerns regarding the final card chosen for the Passport Card," states the letter, written by Reps. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., and Christopher Carney, D-Penn.

But one State Department spokesman, who was not identified in the story, defended the technology: "The passport card is the result of an interagency effort to produce the most durable, secure and tamper-resistant card for the American public using state-of-the-art, laser-engraving and security features."

Click here to read the full story in the Washington Times.