U.S Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson has revealed important progress in the development of biometrically-enabled technologies to prevent the use of fraudulent or stolen international travel documents.DHS is testing e-
Passports and e-Passport readers in anticipation of an upcoming deadline
requiring all Visa Waiver travelers issued a passport after October 26,
2006 to present an e-Passport to enter the United States under the Visa
Waiver Program (VWP).
The use of the new e-Passports and deployment of e-Passport readers to
U.S. ports of entry will help to ensure the authenticity of international
travel documents and provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers
with another invaluable tool for use in the border inspection process.
“We are adopting biometric, electronically-based, and secure travel
documents that are tamper resistant, yet provide a very convenient way to
move back and forth across our borders,” said Deputy Secretary Jackson. “We
have now successfully completed e-Passport technology testing in a live
environment. Working with Visa Waiver countries, we will begin to deploy
these important security enhancements this year.”
The U.S. anticipates the deployment of e-Passport readers for
processing VWP visitors by October 26, 2006. Recently, US-VISIT conducted a
successful test of e-Passports and e-Passport readers with Basic Access
Control (BAC) at San Francisco International Airport. BAC enhances the
security of the document and protects the privacy of the traveler by
preventing the unauthorized reading, or “skimming,” of information.
The test, which was conducted between January 15, 2006 and April 15,
2006, evaluated the operational impact of reading and verifying information
embedded in the e-Passports on the border inspection process. This test was
a collaborative effort between the United States, Australia, New Zealand
and Singapore. A total of 1,938 e-Passports were successfully processed
during the test in San Francisco. A similar test was conducted in 2005 at
Los Angeles International Airport.
E-Passports contain an individual’s biographic information and a
digital photograph on a contactless chip embedded in the document. DHS
requires that any passport issued after the October 26 deadline, and used
for VWP travel to the United States, must be an e-Passport. In addition,
DHS will have the capability to read and authenticate these e-Passports.
The U.S. Department of State has begun issuing diplomatic e-Passports and
expects to begin issuance of regular e-Passports this summer to U.S.
Travelers applying for admission under the VWP are allowed to enter the
United States for up to 90 days for business or pleasure without obtaining
a non-immigrant visa. Those VWP travelers that are issued a passport after
October 26, 2006, must present an e-Passport. The 27 countries
participating in the VWP include: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium,
Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan,
Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway,
Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and
the United Kingdom. Approximately 15 million VWP travelers visit the United