A Trust Framework for ePassport EAC

14/06/10

 

Increasingly violent international criminal activity is being confronted with greater intelligence-sharing among nations and more accurate and timely tracking of suspects’ movements across international borders. Key to the success of these initiatives is a more reliable travel document; one that is harder to forge than the familiar paper-based passport. And a beneficial side effect may be greater convenience for travelers who do not pose a threat to national security.

One of the main ways in which new electronic travel documents differ from existing ones is that they can be loaded with biometric data sets, such as fingerprints and iris patterns, that are more difficult to substitute than printed data sets and more difficult to impersonate than facial photographs. While these data sets can deliver lower false-acceptance rates than facial photographs, their reliability depends crucially upon their being kept secret, since, armed with another person’s biometric data set, it can be relatively easy to construct a matching prosthetic and thereby impersonate them.

Unlike some other common credential types, biometric data sets cannot be withdrawn once compromised. So they should only be revealed to systems that can be trusted to handle them properly. Biometric data sets are possibly most vulnerable when the passport falls into criminal hands. But, other abuses that can occur include: using them for purposes other than the declared purpose, sharing them with others and failing to delete them immediately after use. The problem is: how can the passport tell whether the passport inspection system that is interrogating it is trustworthy? This is the function of the Extended Access Control (EAC) features of electronic passports.

 

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A Trust Framework for ePassport EAC
A Trust Framework for ePassport EAC

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