Biometric passports or ePassports combines paper documentation and state of the art biometric identification to create a hassle free traveler identification system that is reliable, foolproof and easy to use. After the International Civil Aviation Organization laid down guidelines for biometric passports, many countries including India, started to revamp their archaic paper based passport system to make their airports secure. Experts believe that once this new system is established the biometric fingerprint reader will become the norm in the aviation industry.
Malaysia was the first country to implement a biometric based identification system at their airports. Way before the September 11 accident, biometric passports were issued to frequent travelers in Malaysia in an aim to improve airport security. Fingerprint readers installed at the gates scans for the information contained in the biometric cards, and this information is later validated by a biometric fingerprint reader at the entry point. The gates open only if there is a match. This system helped the Malaysian authorities to implement a foolproof biometric based security system.
India embarks on an ambitious biometric based ePassport system
The Indian government realizing the need for a modern biometric based airport security system embarked on an ambitious project that sought to implement a modern biometric based passport system in a phased manner. According to this project, the passport would be issued to diplomats initially and later on kiosks would be opened throughout India that would distribute this passport within three days under the Tatkal scheme.
The External Affairs Minister of India, Mr. S.M. Krishna said that electronic passports would be issued to its citizens within three days of application by using biometrics and digital technology. After commissioning two e-Passport Seva Kendras, managed by India’s premier IT provider, TCS, Mr. Krishna said that the main objective of India’s e-Passport scheme was to ensure its implementation in the shortest time possible and in the most reliable and cost effective manner.
The government of India has set up similar kiosks in Hubli, Mangalore, Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Ambala. According to the scheme, the government of India will establish 77 more kiosks throughout the length and breadth of the country, costing an estimated 100 crore. The government hopes to implement the project by 2011.
Biometric technology has made airports safer through the use of ePassports; banks have made extensive use of this technology to make transactions safer; individuals have used the USB fingerprint reader to secure their data- truly it can be said that biometric technology has made the world more efficient and safer.