Questions raised over ePassports
20 April 2012
MEPs in Strasbourg have questioned the European Commission (EC) about the security of biometric passports following reports of problems with the documents in a number of countries including France and the Netherlands.
Back in 2008, the European Parliament (EP) identified weak points in the system including problems with the reliability of fingerprints taken from children and the elderly; error rates; lack of experience of the technologies being used; and the risk of fraud at various stages of document deployment. As a result, the EP asked the EC to commission studies into these areas, which are expected to conclude later this year.
According to the EP, between 500,000 and 1 million of France’s 6.5 million biometric passports in circulation are estimated to be false, having been obtained using counterfeit documents.
In the Netherlands, an examination of 448 cases by local the authorities in Roermund found that 21% of the fingerprints were non-verifiable and therefore useless.
As a result, MEPs invited EC representatives to a plenary session on 19 April 2012 to respond to their questions about the effectiveness of biometric passports. They have also asked if it will now consider re-evaluating the rules governing the issue of ePassports in the EU.