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NXP details top three global trends in biometric passports

NXP Semiconductors has identified its top three trends in electronic passports (ePassports or biometric passports) as increasing functionality, stronger security, and the ePassport complemented by ‘virtual mobile identity’.

Seven hundred thirty million out of 900 million passports issued are ePassports, with 120 countries claiming that they are currently issuing ePassports, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

NXP explains how ePassport functionality is continuously evolving, with ICAO initially introducing BAC (Basic Access Control), then EAC (Extended Access Control), and currently, the shift to SAC (Supplemental Access Control) protocols.

All ePassports currently use the Local Data Structure (LDS) format. The process stores and secures data, embeds it in the chip, and ensures that it remains the same for the document’s entire lifespan so that it cannot be altered.

However, this will soon change with LDS2. As a backwards-compatible extension to previous generations of electronic passports, the new format enables the complete digital storage of travel data such as electronic visas and travel stamps directly on the chip.

NXP highlights how the read-and-write capacity allows new biometric data to be added. As a result, countries will be able to provide citizens with the option of submitting biometrics if they want to participate in a trusted-traveller program.

Introducing passport applications will bring new opportunities to efficiently automate the processing of passengers and their documents, which should help reduce time at borders.

Another key trend of electronic passports is the emphasis on stronger security, as those countries that already issue ePassports continue to find new ways to further increase its level of security.

As a result, the future will see more data being transferred from the ePassport’s physical pages to the secure Integrated Circuit (IC), which is designed to prevent attempts to steal, modify or misuse the data.

NXP explains that the chip embedded in the electronic passport has more capacity and functional flexibility than simply supporting the ICAO 9303 protocols, meaning that there are many opportunities to implement electronic forensic security features.

The chip provides functionality that may be used on an international and/or national level, depending on feature implementation and international cooperation, NXP said.

In addition, customer-specific functionality implemented in the chip can increase security and efficiency in the process of border management and ultimately improve document security and fraud prevention.

Finally, the last trend is the notion that ePassport being combined with ‘virtual mobile identity’ such as NFC, allowing ePassport holders to identify themselves by interacting with and authenticating applications via NFC-enabled mobile smartphones or wearable formats.

ICAO is currently using the 9303 NTWG (New Technology Work Group) to develop potential future policies and standards for a virtual mobile identity.

As a provider of eGovernment technology solutions, NXP is an NFC co-inventor and its line of SmartMX products are frequently used to secure NFC-enabled smartphones.

The company is also actively involved in ISO and ICAO standardization activities for virtual mobile identities.

Previously reported, HID Global Seos credential technology will be embedded in NXP Semiconductors SmartMX-based secure element devices to enable the use of wearable devices to open electronic locks at commercial buildings, hotels and workplaces.

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