Why is it that computer printers can’t print out your passport?
Computer printers can print out passports but can’t open or edit them, a government official said Tuesday, after reports the US military was developing a “digital passport” that would allow it to automatically import the passports of its troops overseas.
“This is an issue of security and transparency,” National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers said in a statement Tuesday.
“It is not an open question that the United States could print passports of our troops overseas, but that is not the goal.”
The NSA document cited by The Associated Press said that the “digital passports” project is a “critical capability that will enable our military to import the passport of their troops and protect the identities of their personnel from unauthorized access by the adversary.”
The agency’s goal is to “ensure the security of our personnel and equipment” when deployed abroad, the document said.
It also noted that the digital passport project has been in development for a “significant period of time.”
“The purpose of this initiative is to support our mission, but also to advance digital technology to enable our personnel to work and protect their assets,” the document read.
“We will also be working with the Office of Personnel Management to develop digital authentication capabilities.”
The National Security Council’s digital agency is currently in the design phase.
The new “digital” passport would allow soldiers to “access, edit, print, and view documents from all sources, including the internet, the mail, and electronic commerce,” according to the document.
It would also be able to import passports from other countries.
“The digital passport would provide our troops with access to digital documents and would also allow our troops to interact with digital documents, allowing them to view the document in a secure and transparent way,” the government said.
The agency added that the new digital passport could be printed and distributed electronically.
The project is “designed to provide our military with the ability to easily and securely import their own passports, as well as the ability for them to print them out on their own time.”
The NSA document did not address the possibility that the passports could be counterfeit, which is an “inherent risk” of digital passports, according to an NSA spokesperson.
The agency said that it will work with the Department of Homeland Security to make sure the digital passports are secure, and that “all digital elements, including passwords, are securely stored and transmitted.”