Indians to get e-passport soon! Salient facts, security features of new chip-based passport
E-passports to be issued soon in India! Indian passport holders will soon travel with e-passports which will be based on Indian software developed by IIT-Kanpur and National Informatics Centre (NIC).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke today at the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas about the new e-passports that will soon be introduced. The government has given its approval for procurement of electronic contactless inlays for manufacturing of e-passports to India Security Press (ISP), Nashik.
In this regard, ISP, Nashik, has been authorized to float a Global three-stage tender for procurement of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)-compliant electronic contactless inlays along with its operating system which is required for manufacture of e-passports.
Officials from the Ministry of External Affairs, the National Informatics Centre (NIC), the Indian Security Press (Nasik) and the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, worked on the project. The External Affairs Minister of State Gen VK Singh (retd) had told the Parliament in the recently concluded winter session of Parliament that, “The Ministry of External Affairs has plans to issue chip enabled e-passports to citizens with advanced security features and better printing and paper quality.”
What is an e-passport?
The personal particulars of the applicants would be digitally signed and stored in the chip. In case, anyone tampers with the chip, the system shall be able to identify it resulting in the failure of the passport authentication. Access of information is protected in a way that the chip cannot be read without physical possession of the passport.
What are the salient features of an e-passport? How is better than the existing one?
1. The e-passport will have thicker front and back covers
2. The back cover will have a small silicon chip, smaller than a postage stamp, as well as an embedded rectangular antenna
3. It will take a few seconds to be read. Vital extra seconds will be saved at the immigration counters
4. The software has been developed by IIT-Kanpur and National Informatics Centre (NIC). There is no commercial agency involved.
5. The memory space of the chip is 64 kilobytes. Information up to 30 visits and international movement can be stored
6. It is expected to store the photograph of the holder and eventually fingerprints too
7. For the first time testing was conducted in a US government laboratory.
The manufacturing of e-passport with advanced security features and better printing and paper quality will commence on the successful completion of the tendering and procurement process by ISP, Nashik. However, the International Civil Aviation Organisation has set down norms as to how e-passports may be ‘read’, but it does not prescribe how the information in the chip is to be ‘written’ or how its security features should be. Reportedly, a technical committee headed by the NIC director general made the guidelines for writing the information on the chip.
The process initially will be issued to diplomats and officials first. In the second round it will be issued to the general public.
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