In 2012, Passport Canada will be issuing new 10 year valid ePassports that include a “chip” which is encrypted using a type of PKI.
The interesting thing here is that ICAO is going to be storing the public keys for all participating nations (called the ICAO PKD). If you aren’t familiar with public key cryptography, check out wikipedia.
I found it very interesting that ICAO is running the infrastructure to store all the necessary public keys. Then I did some more digging and found out that ICAO has been leading and setting standards for passports since the early 70s.
You can thank ICAO for the “one person, one passport” policy and the requirement for machine readable passports.
Unfortunately I can thank Passport Canada for charging almost $90 to renew my passport.