New passport standard will use facial recognition technology and an electronic chip to store personal information

A globally standardised system for preventing identity fraud and simultaneously speeding passenger processing at airports has been unveiled by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

ICAO's technical advisory group on machine readable travel documents (TAG MRTD) has been working for more than two years with the air transport industry and government agencies to develop an acceptable standard specification for equipment that could form the basis for an integrated global security system.

The agreed system is based on matching people with their passports by the combined use of facial recognition camera technology and an electronic chip embedded in each travel document that stores the owner's biometric details as well as identity information. The chip can store more than one type of biometric detail, with TAG MRTD recommending facial recognition as the basic identification medium, backed up by fingerprinting or iris recognition if any state wishes. This, combined with a "key" in the system, makes unauthorised alteration or access virtually impossible.

ICAO says 700 million MRTDs have been issued in 100 states, although the process of registering individuals for biometric details has lagged behind while TAG MRTD sought agreement on methodology and equipment definition.

Because it has been designed to be internationally interoperable, the system can be used at seaports and border controls as well as for industrial security.

President of the ICAO Council Dr Assad Kotaite says: "I encourage all member states to co-operate fully in the implementation of this global identification framework that can significantly enhance public confidence in air travel security."

Source: Flight International