Biometric identification

Biometric identification

Biometric identification

With the need for increased
security following September 11, the US passed the Enhanced
Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act. The act requires that
the passport of any Visa Waiver Programme traveller issued after
October 26, 2004 must contain a biometric identifier.

This has been picked up quickly by
the EU and New Zealand who hope to have systems in place by the
deadline, October next year. The EU however hope to take it a
step further to combat illegal immigration by requiring that
biometric data is stored on visas and residence permits of third
country nationals.

Acceptable forms of biometric data
are fingerprints, iris scans, DNA or facial recognition
technology. New Zealand citizens entering the US after October
next year without a visa will require a passport containing one
of the above identifiers.

Facial recognition looks set to
become the internationally preferred identifier for border
identification, however may not be the preferred choice in New
Zealand. Unconfirmed sources to the Omega Times have stated that
upon being photographed for new drivers licences, the photograph
was immediately accessible to the NZ Customs dept database, who
have been using them in facial recognition programmes for
travellers leaving and returning to NZ.

An international security
specialist who visited New Zealand recently promoting biometrics
has stated that for convenience we should go with facial
recognition systems as we already have head and shoulder shots
within our passports. This means that a template would be made of
our photos which would be shared internationally as we cross
borders. If there are any suspicions about our identity, our
photo can be retrieved and compared to a real time camera image
of our face using facial recognition technology. If New Zealand
opts not to go with facial recognition, but an alternative
biometric identifier, then there will be delays at borders while
comparisons are made between a real time photo of our face and a
direct analysis of the photograph in the passport.

Meanwhile in the US moves are
afoot to nationally link the different driver’s licences
from the 50 different States on a single database, while also
requiring new licences to carry biometric identifiers of its
owner - such as a fingerprint or a retinal scan. Previously, once
you crossed into another jurisdiction (State) from the one which
issued your licence, enforcement officers were required to use a
phone to check your details. Soon this information will be linked
nationally making the US drivers licence as good as a national ID
card.