A balanced relationship must exist between governments that require personal information from citizens entering their country and citizens who are willing to give up this information. The ePassport is a security model designed to ensure that this balance occurs as it ensures the authentication of citizens through a secure trust infrastructure and advanced privacy controls. The ePassport model is designed and intended to help nations thwart illegal border crossings of terrorists, organized crime and individuals looking to perform illicit activities.
According to a recent report, 93 of 193 U.N. member states now issue biometric ePassports to citizens. The U.S. remains the largest supplier, with more than 72 million documents released to citizens thus far. The second in line is the U.K., with more than 27 million issued to date. In fact, Europe issues the most ePassports per region, with Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany being the leaders.
Currently, we are in a transitional period as governments slowly migrate from the first-generation basic access control (BAC) ePassports to the second, which supports extended access control (EAC). While BAC ePassports provide countless benefits—especially over legacy passports—the second-generation passport takes these advantages a step further. This migration can be attributed to the increased amount of options that EAC holders have in terms of who is allowed to access the personal information stored on cards. While BAC is secure, EAC takes that security to a second, more advanced level for those who wish to use it.
EAC passports come equipped with the most advanced security features known to date including iris recognition, finger printing capabilities and advanced cryptography. The second-generation ePassport is constructed with chip-cloning prevention and possesses the ability to release biometric information to trusted sources. This improved international verification method also includes a stronger, 128-bit data transfer encryption feature.
The sensitivity of such biometric data is a major concern for those looking to make the switch from the first- to second-generation ePassports. This is due to the fact that biometric data is non-revocable personally identifiable information (PII). Through the use of a public key infrastructure (PKI), EAC ePassports help to protect individual’s unique and biometric data from theft or miscreant activity, ensuring only authorized entities can access the data stored in the document.