The price of a passport is about to go up by almost 30%, this means that if you've less than 3 years before your passport expires, you can save money by renewing now, and you can do this online. This doesn't factor in the possibility of further price rises (which are likely given the push toward ID cards).
By renewing now, you ensure that you avoid the hassles of being entered on the national ID database (one great big target for cybertheft).
As the 'renew' campaign says:
You may have heard that you'll be able to opt out of having an ID card if you renew your passport before 1st January 2010. But the card is not the point. Even if you chose not to have it, you would still have to pay for it. And you will get no choice about attending an official interview, producing numerous personal documents to be recorded, and having your fingerprints and eye scans taken for the records.
The payment increase is starting now, the database will kick in at some point in the near future (no date has been set yet). The database is the real issue behind many objections to the cards.
For various posters summarising the arguments, you can browse this site.
However, for now, a quick way to protest, and one which will provide a cost saving for many in the longer term is to renew your passport. Both of our passports have been sent for renewal. Whenever you read this, renewing is a good plan, if you're reading this in September 2006, then renewing is a great choice. As I say, you can do this online - I did. You fill out your details (you'll need your existing passport number), they post you a pre-filled form, you sign it, add some photos and a cheque, and return it. Easy.
What are you waiting for?
In the US, they're about to start issuing passports with inbuilt RFID chips (RFID chips can be use to 'tag' items in a supermarket to guard against theft). This would make it possible for Americans abroad to be picked out in a crowd from a distance without their passports leaving their pockets. It may not be easy (they listened and are issuing the passport in a conducting wallet), but it'd be possible, especially if the wallet is discarded through ignorance.
One can imagine that this is open to abuse... for example, a bomb that is triggered when there are some minimum number of Americans nearby, security guru, Bruce Schneier, has recently written about this.
Other countries are also issuing RFID passports, I'm not sure where the UK is on this, but given our recent history with the US, I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't imminent. A comment on the Schneier site says that the UK is already issuing RFID.
As far as I'm concerned, RFID in passports is simply a technology which allows data to be read without the passport being presented. If my passport is examined, why the devil should I not have to present it? Or to put it another way, why would anyone need to examine it without my knowledge?
Fortunately, it should be pretty trivial to store the passport in a conducting container (the tin foil hat brigade has a ring of truth in this instance, it's called a Faraday cage!)