2006-03-28 — The next interoperability test of electronic passports (ePassport) will be the most rigorous yet, predicts Gary McDonald, chairman of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) New Technologies Working Group. The NTWG is overseeing development of the e-passport standard. Tests will take place in Berlin from May 29 to June 1. “For Berlin, we are looking for mature products,” McDonald said at the Global Border Control Technology Summit in London today. That likely means little room for products that haven’t kept up with the pace of e-passport development. Electronic passports contain contactless chips that hold biographic data and a digital facial image of the cardholder. The specific guidelines for the Berlin test are still in development, says Joel Shaw, convener of the International Organization for Standardization Working Group 3 that is closely aligned with the work of the NTWG. Less mature products might be subject to different testing, Shaw says. Some 10 nations—Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Japan—are already issuing the new travel documents. Two deadlines are spurring some 40 nations to adopt e-passports. The European Union has mandated that its 25 member states adopt them by August, with the United States requiring the 27 participants in its Visa Waiver Program adopt them by October.
The New Technologies Working Group (NTWG) conducts ongoing research into technology suitable for deployment in MRTDs, issuance and border control environments, and information sharing initiatives and supports the Secretariat in ensuring ICAO Doc 9303 is current and relevant in a changing environment.
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