One reader asks a question more people should ask themselves as machine readable passports are rapidly becoming the standard identification documents for international travel, and as remotely readable biometric information is becoming the standard for entry to the US very soon: what information is contained within machine readable passports?
In its current form, machine readable passports generally have two lines of text that can be read using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). An example photo of a current MRP (Machine Readable Passport) can be seen on the BA.com pages here. The strips of text contains the holder's basic personal details, eg. name, date of birth, nationality and the passport number; i.e. nothing more than what an old-fashioned passport contains.
However, going forward, the next standard identification documents prepared by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will contain photo (in JPEG2000 format), name, sex, date of birth, passport#, nationality, issuer, date of expiry, and more. Optional data includes iris and fingerprint-information: says one vendor preparing for the standardization:
It will include a contactless chip of at least 32 Kbytes of memory used to store biographic and biometric data and images. This data can then be instantly transferred in a contactless fashion to a passport reading system.Further reading:
In order to achieve interoperability between all the passports and readers of the countries that use the e-passport, their manufacturers will rely on the implementation of international standards for compression and formatting of this biographic and biometric data. These standards are defined by ICAO, and will reference ISO SC 37 standards for biometrics.
ICAO has defined what they call the LDS or "logical data structure", which identifies the fields where biographic and biometric data will be placed on the chip in the e-passport. For example, "Data Group 1" holds the biographic data we typically associate with a passport, such as name, nationality, and date of birth. "Data Group 2" holds the "global interchange feature", a compressed facial image which will serve as the universal biometric. Datagroups 3 and 4 are intended for fingerprint and iris biometric images and data, respectively.
Anders Jacobsen |
[weblog / photography]