Britain accepting passport photos captured on phones to simplify facial recognition matching

January 24, 2017 - 

Britain’s passport office said it will now accept photos taken on mobile phones when British applicants renew their passports online, according to a report by The Economist.

Those individuals applying for their first passport will still be required to have hard copy photos countersigned by a professional acquaintance to verify their identity.

However, “selfies” are prohibited as all photos must be taken from a distance of 1.5 meter (4.9 feet).

The new feature is a part of developing Home Office Passport Office’s online application service, according to the department.

Lord Harris of Haringey, who sits on the National Security Strategy Joint Committee, has raised concerns about the security implications of this decision, telling Mail on Sunday that digital pictures leave “it open for people to manipulate photographs and potentially endanger security”.

Despite this vulnerability, digital photos can be more easily matched against photos stored on the passport database and read by facial recognition software at airports, which the Home Office says it intends to do.

The Home Office introduced the option of online applications last year, making it easier for people to renew a British passport.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.