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ICAO publishes Master List of digital certificates for biometric passport authentication

ICAO publishes Master List of digital certificates for biometric passport authentication

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has issued an online “Master List” of biometric passport authentication certificates to strengthen border security with detailed information including root certificates used in the digital signing process. The certificates are used to perform biometric passport authentication.

The Country Signing Certificate Authority (CSCA) behind each ePassport is listed to compliment existing sources from the ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD) and national authorities. More than two-thirds of states now issue e-passports, which store traveler biometrics and other identity information in chip-based credentials to deliver strengthened security and short processing times when crossing borders.

“Improved access to the authentication certificates will enhance global e-passport validation effectiveness, in particular for authorities which have faced difficulties in obtaining them in the past,” stresses ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu. “And importantly, all the certificates in the Master List have been personally delivered to ICAO by its Member States, thereby enhancing the mutual trust upon which secure and efficient e-passport verification must depend.”

Chips are signed by the issuing authority with cryptographically-generated linked private and public keys, and the security of verification is strengthened by a digital authentication certificate binding the traveler’s identity and the public key, which is issued by a reliable authority.

“We are also making these certificates available for non-state non-commercial use,” Dr. Liu adds, “in recognition of the inherent public good in assuring as wide a capability to authenticate e-passports as is feasible. Assuring these capabilities is critical to assuring the evolution of new digital identity innovations, and in particular our ongoing work on a new Digital Travel Credential (DTC).”

The ICAO sees the extension of biometric passport validation to private companies and the public as part of its “several seamless travel initiatives,” helping to improve traveler identity management processes.

There are 251 certificates on the Master List at this time.

Indonesia obtained a PKD certificate from the ICAO for its biometric passports last year.

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