Siemens IT Puts Small EU Countries Way Ahead on e-Passports

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I must say, when I think high-tech biometrics, neither the Czech Republic nor Croatia springs to mind.


And yet, last spring, Croatia became one of the one of the first European countries capable of processing e-passports, (Switzerland started using biometric passports a year ago). Now, the Czech Republic is taking steps to add a similar biometric passport check system from Siemens IT Solutions.


The Siemens IT Solutions system uses fingerprint scanners, cameras, and high-performance IT equipment. It's so secure, according to this article from Physorg.com, that it's "practically impossible to travel with a false passport."


The system stores individual markers, such as a facial photograph and fingerprints, on a chip inside the passport. A scanner reads that data at a passport checkpoint, then compares it with the data -- the fingerprint scan and a digital photo -- of the traveler at that checkpoint. According to the article, eye position plays a key role in matching the photos.


In the future, passports will be embedded with an ultra-thin RFID chip - though some have raised questions about whether RFID chips cause more security problems than they solve. The e-passports are expected to be used in other EU countries and Schengen signatories by 2009, according to the article.


Meanwhile, in the United States, some say biometric security will take a decade to implement at land ports.