NZ passport employs facial recognition

26th May 2006

CryptoMetrics, a leading global provider of facial recognition and fingerprint biometric solutions to the government, aviation security, law enforcement, military, homeland security and commercial markets, today announced that the New Zealand Passport Office has deployed its facial recognition technology as part of that country’s ePassport initiative. CryptoMetrics Announces Facial Recognition Contract With New Zealand Passport Office; SecurIDent(TM) Technology Has Been Performing ‘‘Watch List’’ Check and Comprehensive Quality Assessment of Passport Photos

CryptoMetric’s technology, which consists of hardware and software, is part of a comprehensive system New Zealand is deploying to enhance security in its passport issuance process and to comply with the new ICAO ePassport Standard and U.S. visa waiver requirements.

New Zealand chose CryptoMetrics’ SecurIDent(TM) technology to carry out advanced face biometric based “Watch List” Checks (known as “lookout checks”) on all passport applications.

When these Checks were initially deployed nearly a year ago they were believed to be the first use of facial recognition technology for lookout checks by any Passport Issuing Authority. The has performed exceptionally throughout that period. The Government will also use CryptoMetrics’ Photo Quality Assessment and Assurance technology to review all photographs submitted by Passport applicants to ensure they comply with established photo guidelines. The technology also produces the globally interoperable face biometric sample recorded on the new ePassport.

Robert Barra, co-CEO of CryptoMetrics, stated, “This contract represents a very important step forward for CryptoMetrics and for the security of the Passport issuance process. Our technology will significantly increase the accuracy and efficiency of the work of Passport officials as they review applications for new or renewing Passports and help ensure that people who attempt to commit identity fraud using Passports do not slip through the cracks. As governments around the world accelerate their conversion to ePassports, we expect to be actively involved in providing the technology that ensures those systems operate at the highest possible level.”


With increasing threats around the world posed by terrorism, countries must secure their Passport issuance process to ensure that those who have been placed on “watch lists” are in fact detected and denied access to fraudulent travel documents such as Passports. A recent study in the United Kingdom concluded that potentially more than 10,000 Passports are issued each year to applicants who have lied about their details, half of which involve false identities.

The new ePassport system requires that the face biometric be encoded in a contactless microchip securely embedded in the Passport, allowing officials to confirm the identity of the person presenting the Passport. To be effective, each face biometric encoding must comply with the International Standard established by ICAO.

Mr. Barra added, “New Zealand will also use our quality assurance technology to perform an initial check on submitted Passport photos to ensure they are of sufficient quality to create the printed portrait for the data page of the Passport. This is a process that all nations will need to adopt and, given the uniqueness of our technology, we expect to be assisting a great number of them.”

David Philp, Manager of the New Zealand Passport Office stated, “For those who are involved in international crime and possibly terrorist activity, obtaining a false Passport is often critical to success. CryptoMetrics’ technology will greatly improve security at step one of the Passport issuance process, by automatically comparing every application’s photograph against the departments Watch List of persons who have previously attempted identity fraud. We chose CryptoMetrics because its technology offered the highest levels of accuracy available, very fast processing time and a very unique ability to enhance the quality of existing photographs through a process called ‘normalization’.”

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which oversees the safety of international aviation, established the International Standard governing biometrically enhanced passports (referred to as the ‘ePassport’). This work was undertaken collaboratively with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ICAO requires all 189 member countries to use the facial biometric as the standardized, globally interoperable biometric for all official travel documents.


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