Electronic passports are of increasing importance to many processes like border management. Here, manufacturers coming from several businesses jointly strive for the goal to be prepared for a world-wide operating, secure and well performing electronic passport system. Despite the fact that this system addresses one of the largest imaginable user groups, it requires a combination of several advanced technologies: Biometrics, security document processing, RFID, PKI management, and others. This abstract addresses the challenges visible from the perspective of a document reader manufacturer, even if they can only be briefly outlined. The discussion is based on the experiences of the company the authors of this paper work with, which has gained a wealth of experiences from working for more than a century in the optical industry, as well as decades in the field of image capturing and image processing. Additionally, insights and experiences come from the participation in ICAO interoperability tests, and the membership in standardization bodies. 2.
Georg Hasse & Andreas Wolf
Smiths Heimann Biometrics GmbH, Unstrutweg 4, 07743 Jena, Germany
Interoperability of passports and passport readers
ePassports combine several sophisticated technologies into one global system. Therefore, it is of great importance that the electronic passport systems ensure readability (all passports can be read by all document readers), privacy (protected data can only be read by authorities that are allowed to do so, and the authenticity of the document can be verified), and adequacy (the biometric data stored in the passports can be used for biometric verification systems). ePassports contain RFID technology, two types of biometrics (facial image and fingerprint image), and an interoperable PKI infrastructure. In addition, to make the task even more complicated, they will be used by one of the largest imaginable user groups, i. e., by potentially all passport holders. A series of test events showed that there has been much progress. The most important results of the last test in March 2005 in Tsukuba, Japan, are the following: Some of the 816 ePassports could be read by almost all readers, some of the 16 readers were able to read all or almost all passports. Basic Access Control (BAC) is technically mature. The reading time of passports with BAC was 3-17sec (20k facial image), and the average reading time with BAC was 9.24 sec. Some manufacturers should read the standards and guidelines more carefully. Especially the last point is important from the point of view of a reader manufacturer. Even if the reader can deal with slight deviations, as ICAO recommends, this requires additional time. And, on the other hand, it is possible that an ePassport cannot be read at a border control station if the deviation is a new one not known so far. Therefore, compliance with the standards is strongly recommended.
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