Airports all over the world are increasingly turning to state of the art Fingerprint Identification System to boost their security apparatus and preventing instances of fraud, where forged documents have been used to get past the immigration authorities. The new system called the ePassport incorporates new technologies like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and biometrics to form a foolproof security system, which, experts believe, will offer a top class airport security system. Once this new system is successfully implemented, automated fingerprint identifiers and fingerprint scanners will become the last word in airport security.
The need for an Automated fingerprint identification system was felt after the September 11 terrorist attacks, which exposed the loopholes in the existing airport security systems. Following the accident, studies were undertaken, on how to improve the airport security systems without inconveniencing the passengers.
International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines for Airport Security
Following this initiative by the United States government, a task force was set up to find out ways to improve airport security. After studying several options, the task force decided that a biometric based passport system was best suited for the needs of a modern airport system. A biometric system was preferred because it provided a foolproof identification system in a hassle free environment. Also, it was easy to use, reliable and durable; providing a security cordon for many years after a successful enrolment.
According to this program, all passports issued after 2005 will carry biometric information. Together, the RFID and the biometric technologies will reduce fraud, ease identity checks and enhance security at the airports. These passports would be designed according to the guidelines set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a body run by the United States Government and mandated to oversee the implementation of the ePassport. The ICAO guideline mandated the incorporation of RFID technology in the next generation biometric enabled passports. The guidelines further states that each passport would contain digitized facial information of the bearer in addition to fingerprint and iris data.
The US-Visit Program, which includes twenty seven member states, requires the visitor to include two sets of fingerprints in addition to a head shot, in order to make the identification process easier. Since this initiative was taken, many governments, including the Indian government have gravitated towards a biometric based passport system to make their airport security system more reliable.