Passport safety, privacy face off

Thursday, 1 April 2004, 12:37 PM EST

An international aviation group is completing new passport standards this week, setting the groundwork for all passports issued worldwide to include digitized photographs that a computer can read remotely and compare to the face of the traveler or to a database of mug shots.

Supporters hope the system will banish fake passports and help fight terrorism. But critics say the standards will enable a global infrastructure for surveillance and lead to a host of national biometric databases, including ones run by countries with troubling human rights records.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, is meeting this week in Cairo, Egypt, and is hoping to finalize the technical specifications for the new passport standards on Friday.

By Ryan Singel at Wired.

[ Read more ]




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