Europe opts for biometric passports

R.A. Hettinga rah at
Wed Oct 27 22:50:28 EDT 2004



 Europe opts for biometric pasports
 By Lars Pasveer

 Story last modified October 27, 2004, 5:56 PM PDT

Ministers for European Union member states agreed on Tuesday to adopt
biometric passports.

The first biometric passports are set to arrive in 18 months and initially
will record the facial characteristics of the bearer.

 In three years, European travelers will also have to provide a fingerprint
for the passport. The facial and fingerprint data will be stored on an
embedded chip, along with a digital copy of the bearer's photo.

 The decision, made at a meeting of interior ministers in Luxembourg, is
not yet final. Austria, Finland and the Netherlands have voiced minor
concerns about the proposal, but they will probably not turn out to be
insurmountable obstacles.

 The European push for biometrics is heavily influenced by a United States
policy change for passports for people from "visa waiver" countries after
the Sept. 11 attacks. U.S. plans to introduce a biometric passport
requirement by this fall for these countries were widely seen as
unrealistic. However, by Oct. 26 next year, all visitors from these
countries will have to provide a machine-readable passport with biometric

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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