Australia, New Zealand Consider Paperless Passports
In the wake of fake passports and people smuggling in the EU refugee crisis, here’s a potential solution from Australia: The Cloud Could Soon Let Aussies Travel Without a Passport.
Australians could soon leave their old paper passports at home if a new proposal endorsed by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop goes ahead.
The digital passport would include identity and biometrics data, according to the outlet, meaning Australians could easily be recognised at the border without showing any documents.
“We’re in discussions with New Zealand and if we’re able to put in place the appropriate requirements, including security, then it’s something we’d like to trial and implement,” Bishop told the media on Thursday.
She also advised new technologies could assist in making passports even more secure. “Australia prides itself on having one of the most secure passports in the world, but by embracing and harnessing new technologies, we might be able to do better,” she said.
Australians currently have access to ePassports, which have been issued since 2005. An ePassport contains a chip storing information about the passport holder such as their photo, name, sex and passport number. Combined with Australia’s SmartGate technology in many local airports, it allows people to enter the county without speaking to a customs officer after a machine compares a live image of the traveller with the one stored on the passport.
It’s unclear at this point how the government would address concerns about hacking and privacy breaches that are an unfortunate byproduct of any type of cloud storage. Whether the photos or biometrics of Australian citizens could be stored by foreign customs agencies, or even passed onto foreign law enforcement, is also an issue that would have to be addressed.
The use of images culled from passports and drivers licenses for purposes beyond their original intention is already a matter of debate in Australia. In September, the government announced it would be spending A$18.5 million (US$13.1 million) on the National Facial Biometric Matching Capability. This program allows agencies and law enforcement around the country to examine millions of photographs of Australians held in existing databases to put “a name to the face” of criminal suspects.
We Know Who You Are!
Link if video does not play: Scene from Goodfellas.
Cloud Passports Coming
Lost passports would become a thing of the past under a cloud system. But do you trust the government or the cloud as a safe-keeper of your personal data?
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop admitted security standards would have to be met to store personal information in the cloud, but hopes the idea could go global.
Australians are assured of “Absolute Security” reports SBS News.
The risk of impersonation via copy of facial features, fingerprints, and eye data seems remote, but a hacker who modified stored data could cause a traveler to be locked out of returning home.
Most importantly, the government will know who you are, where you have been, when you were there, and how much you spent, etc., no matter where you are, once all tracking mechanisms are fully in place.
Like it or not, it’s pretty clear such systems are coming.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock