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Passport ID Technology Has High Error Rate

Washington Post reports that the State Department is moving ahead with a plan to implant electronic identification chips in U.S. passports that will allow computer matching of facial characteristics, despite warnings that the technology is prone to a high rate of error.

Under State Department specifications finalized this month for companies to bid on the new system, a chip woven into the cover of the passport would contain a digital photograph of the traveler’s face. That photo could then be compared with an image of the traveler taken at the passport control station, and also matched against photos of people on government watch lists.

But federal researchers who have tested face-recognition technology say its error rate is unacceptably high – up to 50 percent if photographs are taken without proper lighting.

They then proceed to make a case for fingerprinting that has a lower error rate. Yeah, that will make things much better.

While face recognition is set as a standard, countries could add one or two other approved biometrics: fingerprints and scans of the eye’s iris. Several European countries are considering adding fingerprints to their passports. And branding with fire. Oops the last one wasn’t in the news.

Rebecca Dornbusch, deputy director of the International Biometric Industry Association is quotes as saying:

The important thing to recognize is that it [face-recognition requirement] is an improvement. [The State Department should] continue to implement as many biometrics as they can, so they can ensure . . . the most secure protection.

Oh really, and how about the most secure revenue stream to the International Biometric Industry Association.

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