In the last few months I got more interested on the current status of Biometric passports. The official term is eMRTD which means electronic Machine Readable Travel Documents. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which is is a specialized agency of the United Nations, sets the technical standard for passports worldwide and gives recommendations and guidelines on travel documents to its 191 member states.
Some of the most current topics are:
- 3rd generation of ePassports
- SAC implementation by Germany and Switzerland – which are the very first countries to use this latest security standard
- LDS 2.0
One of the issues I criticize is that a travel document with a defect chip (non-readable however) keeps still a VALID travel document! Now we have this high tech standard implemented at high costs for the end user and I would assume on high profit for security printers but this is also a huge security gap. The 2011 Frontex report does mention significant security issues with chips… For me it is not clear why ICAO does not close this gap. Is the implemented technology not that durable and reliable as always promoted? Are the technical equipment at borders checkpoints not available? It might be a mix of both aspects. By today 100+ countries have implemented a ePassport but the number of ICAO member states is 193, so there is still a long way to go. The next step is the ban of handwritten passports which will be all obsolete by Nov 2015.