ePassport : Java Glossary


Forged passports are a staple of Hollywood movies. They are real problem in the real world too. There is a simple technological solution. Put all the passport information, including photo, fingerprints in digital form, then digitally sign it with the country’s private key. Any tampering will be instantly detected. It amounts to having the president of the country sign each passport in an unforgeable way. The only way to get a fake passport is to bribe or threaten someone with the authority to issue legitimate ones. The technology is called digital signing. It is based on public/private key encryption.

Countries implementing digital passports include: Belgium, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Estonia, France, Lithuania, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Sudan, Sweden, Tajikistan, USA… More than 95 countries have implemented ePassports.

Canadian ePassport logo epassport logo Canada’s ePassport looks like a a traditional book passport, except for a small ePassport logo on the front. It has a chip embedded in it. It is valid for either five or ten years. Why make it look like a book? So that countries without up-to-date electronic scanners can still process them as if they were the old non-electronic style.

The USA has both ePassport books and cards (that look like ID cards or garish credit cards). The cards do not permit international air travel, which is strange given cards have higher security.

digital certificates
digital signing
Gemalto: a provider of ePassport technology
Passport Canada
US State Department: issues American passports

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