Significant efforts have been invested to make travel documents more secure by issuing passports with biometric data and embedded electronic chips (“ePassports”). Over the last 10 years hundreds of millions ePassports have been issued in about 90 countries. The wide spread use has made apparent some security gaps in the ePassport issuing process, shortcomings in convenience and data protection, and barriers to use ePassports to their full potential.
The European Union must remain on the cutting edge in this domain in order to give border control authorities the assurance that identity checks are accurate, while protecting citizens’ rights regarding privacy. To this end, the EC is financing the multi-disciplinary research and development initiative, ‘FIDELITY: Fast and trustworthy Identity Delivery and check with ePassports leveraging Traveler privacy’.
This multi-disciplinary initiative will analyse shortcomings and vulnerabilities in the ePassport life cycle, and develop technical solutions and recommendations to overcome them. FIDELITY will demonstrate privacy enhanced solutions to:
- Secure issuing processes: authentication of documents, preventing impersonation and fraud;
Improve ePassport security and usability: authentification processes, ID check speed, accuracy of biometrics, management of certificates, access to remote data bases, convenience of biometric sensors and inspection devices;
- Better manage lost and stolen passports;
- Ensure privacy: privacy-by-design, the exclusive FIDELITY-applied principle will be considered in all phases of the ePassport life cycle, using characteristics such as systematic anomysization of data and separation of data streams using privacy-enhancing-technologies.
FIDELITY will strengthen trust and confidence of stakeholders and citizens in ePassports, provide more reliable ID checks, hence hinder criminal movements, and ease implementation of E/E records providing better analysis of migration flows. Solutions will be designed for backwards compatibility to be deployed progressively in the existing infrastructure.
The FIDELITY consortium is composed of market-leading companies, innovative SME, renowned academia, ethical-sociological-legal experts, and end-users, which will help to define requirements and recommendations and assess results. They will, with the other partners actively promote the project results towards stakeholders and international working groups that elaborate future ePassport standards.