Electronic Passports

 Introduction

Biometric passports are revolutionary technology present in today’s world that is effectively addressing many problems relating to many aspects of each individual’s life and his or her overall identity. The term biometric can be separated into the roots bio and metric which literally refer to life and measure, respectively.

The science of biometrics encompasses a new level of technology used in computer science to precisely identify humans based on their physical characteristics and traits, in which the same level of technology has been applied in the emission of passports since 2005.

Biometric passports, which are also called electronic passports, possess a chip containing all the computerized information about its owner. This information can include but is not limited to an updated, high-quality picture of the owner, all of his or her personal identifiable information fingerprints and signature. At the moment of issuance, this information is registered into a global secured database used by government agencies around the world in order to verify and authenticate the passport holder’s information whenever it is necessary.

Electronic passports bring a great deal of benefits for their holders that include safety, advanced recognizing technologies and convenience in many aspects.

Applied Technology

Apart from possessing a smart chip that contains all the personal information about the individual, electronic passports hold an applied computerized technology that combine both a paper and an electronic way of identifying the passport holder. All electronic passports possess a barcode that can be read on a global database used mainly by the police and immigration agencies in each country around the world.

This barcode effectively encompasses all the information that is also included within the chip, with the only difference that the barcode is readable through a scan on a computer while the chip cannot be scanned since it entails a contactless technology for greater safety.

Many airports and immigration authorities around the world have created automated machines and computerized systems in which electronic passports can be scanned through these machines and effectively be read and identified solely by the machine without any kind of human interaction. Once the passport is either scanned by an officer or a machine, an automated authentication of the passport occurs in which the securely stored identifiable information is verified along with the digitized image through complex algorithms and programming coding in order to ensure that the person presenting such passport is the actual person identified on that passport.

The level of automated identity recognition is not only limited to verifying the stored identifiable information about the person, but also to fully include the applied technology of biometrics including face recognition, fingerprints and an iris scanning. These three techniques can be effectively used in the technology of electronic passports in order to ensure that the person identified on the passport is the person who is presenting it.

Benefits & Advantages

The main benefit of electronic passports is their safety. Throughout the history of passports, many people around the world have been able to get hold of passports that are not theirs and effectively engaging in travelling with those passports that did not present the true bearer of the passport. Other individuals have been able to create and sell counterfeited passports to many individuals around the world in the past that were in need of a passport. Other cases also include the risk of identity theft by taking stolen passports and misusing the identity of the bearer to engage in illicit activities.

Electronic passports have been entirely designed and created in order to combat these issues and malpractices that have been occurring globally for several decades. Bearers of electronic passports enjoy a reduced risk of getting their information stolen and counterfeited by criminals engaging in this activity.

The second main benefit in electronic passports is their high level of convenience during international travel. Bearers of electronic passports can get automated identity verification, more efficient and quicker immigration inspections, and an overall greater security and peace of mind in knowing that their identity document is registered on a global computerized database.

Many electronic passports from many nations around the world do not need a visa to travel many countries in several continents, thereby saving the inconvenience and time of undergoing the process to obtain a visa to visit the specified country of their choice.

Worldwide Use

Electronic passports are inherently used by the majority of first-world countries and developed nations around the world. The entire European Union, United States, Japan and some countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia have effectively adopted the biometric technology into the passports of their citizens. Due to nature of technology of being relatively new in scope, not all countries around the world have been able to adopt the technology of electronic passports due to their costs, computerized systems’ infrastructure and other regulations.

However, with the advantage of the internet, research and development in computerized systems and databases, many other countries have expressed their future plans and interest in engaging in this level of technology for the benefit of their entire nation’s society. Experts agree that in less than 50 years from now, all passports of all countries of the world will be biometric with many more advanced features and safety precautions.

Conclusion

In summary, electronic passports offer an advanced technological system that enables effective identification and recognition. The benefits of obtaining an electronic passport far outweigh the costs of obtaining one. Automated identification recognition, secured information, high-quality picture and other advanced technologies should not be taken for granted in digitized era where everything is computerized and managed electronically.

If you are a citizen of a country that provides electronic passports, by all means consider in obtaining one whenever you need it for international travel or other purposes. Start enjoying the benefits of securing your personal identifiable information, have visa-free access to many countries around the world, avoid identity theft and effectively engage in the most advanced technology of biometrics present during the 21st century.

 

 


Biometric Passports

Biometric Passports are the latest technology today in a world full of security threats and illegal border crossings. A biometric passport is a paper and electronic passport that has biometric information stored in it. These types of passports are also referred to as e-passports and they use a technology known as contactless smart card technology. The new passports basically contain a microprocessor that sends data out via a very small antenna to surrounding authorities to let them know and authenticate travelers.

To know if your passport, which includes many international passports, contains biometric information, there will be a logo of a rectangle with a circle inside and this represents that the technology is present inside that particular passport.

Each passport’s data is encrypted using Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) that many routers use at home which makes it very difficult and time consuming to hack.

The biometric methods that are currently stored in each card are facial recognition, fingerprints, iris and slowly starting today is retinal recognition. In the US, the passports do not contain fingerprints, but it does include personal data, and a digitized image of the photo on the passport that is available for viewing as well as facial recognition. This is very important because with the use of facial recognition, nobody can steal or copy a passport of somebody else and use that to enter the country illegally. It both protects the real passport holder and the country from illegal aliens entering for any reason including dangerous terrorist acts.

Stolen and counterfeit passports/visas were a very large problem that the US Dept of Homeland Security was facing over the last 20 years with an increase every year. With the new identifiers included in the biometric passports, the possibility that the use by terrorists or others who might represent a security risk to the US has been greatly reduced. It really is quite a wonder that these simple little passports can do such a great thing in terms on national security; they can potentially save thousands of lives in the future, all from this one single creation.

The use of biometric passports came into use after the attacks of 9/11 in 2001. This caused a massive wave of improved security features and a switch over to this standard. These passports were bundled under the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act made in 2002 which appears to say that smart identity cards may be used when a visa isn’t available.

In the future, the US has been planning to use a separate check booth for citizens who use the older style passport without the security features. This would unfortunately allow for a longer wait time due to the heightened process to verify the identity of the person who is traveling; this would also serve as an incentive to upgrade your passport to the newer version, since nobody likes waiting at the airport.

Since the US believes that the use of biometric passports is not just a domestic item, but an international security improvement, many countries have since adopted the notion and more are in the process of converting to this model. In 2009, the FBI’s director traveled by private jet to Turkey to discuss with them why they had not implemented the biometric passport initiative. The FBI’s director was concerned over the use of terrorists using the loophole that turkey had by not having biometric passports which would allow them easier access inside the United States. The FBI director warned these Turkish authorities that the possibility of terrorist organizations using fake Turkish passports in their attacks is present.