The global security landscape has changed. The increased threat of terrorism, the universal problem of identity theft, and fraud have forced governments to make a concerted effort to improve the security of their national borders. In reality, the terrorist attacks on mainland US on September 11, 2001 have transformed the way governments worldwide handle security and immigration control issues. A major tool in their arsenal is the introduction of biometric passports that include biometric identifiers. Biometric passport, also known as an e-passport or a digital passport is a combined paper and electronic passport that contains biometric information used to authenticate the identity of travelers. It uses contactless smart card technology, including a microprocessor chip and antenna embedded in the front or back cover, or center page, of the passport.
Biometric passport is equipped with enhanced security features to verify the citizenship of travelers. For the past few years, various countries have introduced a wide range of procedures and computerized methods to avert passport frauds and address the concerns related to international business and personal security. The biometrics are considered more personal and reliable than a passport photo or a PIN, as it uses personal traits such as facial, iris and fingerprints as primary identification features. These biometric features were accepted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) after analyzing multiple other biometrics. Taking European Union as an example, EU citizens are entitled to exercise the right of free movement in the European Economic Area including European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, without a visa. When entering some EEA countries, EU citizens possessing valid biometric passports are able to use automated gates instead of immigration counters. For example, when entering the United Kingdom, at major airports, adult holders of EU biometric passports can use e-passport gates with faster and more securing process. Therefore, biometric passport will be the most effective tool to manage the security for the whole EU citizen when traveling across EEA countries.
In accordance with report from MarketResearchReports.com, the global government biometric market is expected to be worth $6.9 billion by 2024, almost doubling from the $3.6 billion in 2014. E-passport programs underway in various countries are driving government spending on biometrics. The U.S. and European nations including the UK, Germany, France and other smaller European nations were the early adopters of biometric technology for various purposes including border control, airport security, identity security and law enforcement. On the other hand, with increasing popularity, countries in Asia Pacific and Latin America are adopting biometric passports. These national biometric passport issuance programs require strong investment and long duration to be completed. For example, India has recently launched its UIDAI program in order to provide every citizen with an identity card that includes biometric data including fingerprints, iris recognition and digital signatures. This program is considered as the largest of its kind in the world till date. Additionally, the project is anticipated to substantially improve and streamline the process of government services’ delivery to the Indian citizens, especially for border control and airport security.
With a sudden rise in fraudulent methods, biometric passport has become mandatory for international security agencies to reinforce security features in passports. Besides, biometric passport will help improve the immigration process at the airport through automatic e-passport gates. ICAO has evaluated facial recognition as the principal biometric passport and following by iris and fingerprint recognition. The biometric information stored on passport can help in identifying fraud and automating immigration checks in future.