Biometric e-passports set to launch in Taiwan

Twenty-three million Taiwan citizens will be issued biometric e-passports by the second half of 2008, under the new National Identity System (NIS) developed by Hewlett-Packard.

HP has been selected by the Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to develop the NIS to issue biometric e-passports to its citizens.

The project aims to improve the detection of forged or altered passports and to ensure more convenient travel across borders.

To meet international security standards, the NIS would integrate specialist solutions from Entrust, Safenet, 3M and Cryptometrics, with contactless chips (64KB) of ICAO security standard embedded in the e-passports.

Passport chip

The chip would contain the passport holder’s digital photo, biometric information and detailed passport information in electronic form. The data in the chip would be endorsed by the BOCA to ensure the passport was not altered.”

“Apart from the biometric information (the face image),” said Poh-Chuan Tan, HP Asia Pacific and Japan’s public sector sales director, “the chip basically contains the same biographic information as is printed on the passport data page; name, passport number, date of birth, issue date, expiry date, etc. The data in the chip is cryptographically secured using ‘digital signatures’, so it can’t be forged.

In a number of EU and Asian countries, fingerprints are also included. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards also allow for iris biometrics to be used but this has not been widely adopted in e-passport yet.”

Like many other governments, Taiwan is in the early stages of NIS development, while other countries, including South Korea, New Zealand, Italy and the Slovak Republic, have implemented similar biometric e-passport solutions, delivered by HP.

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