New Delhi, Jun 25, 2019 : In his address at the Celebration of Passport Seva Divas, in New Delhi on Monday, the minister said that the Ministry of External Affairs has initiated discussions with the India Security Press in Nashik about the issue of chip-enabled e-passports to the citizens, Finanacial Express reported.
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The Ministry of External Affairs is soon going to have a chip based passport, the software for which has been developed by IIT-Kanpur and the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
The manufacture of e-passports will be pursued on priority so that a new passport booklet with advanced security features can be rolled out in the near future, says the new external affairs minister Dr. S Jaishankar.
In his address at the Celebration of Passport Seva Divas, in New Delhi on Monday, the minister said that the Ministry of External Affairs has initiated discussions with the India Security Press in Nashik about the issue of chip-enabled e-passports to the citizens.
However, the minister did not specify an exact timeline for the issuance of chip-enabled passports.
According to Jaishankar, the ministry will continue to work towards the process of reform on passport delivery and the issuance of passport will remain a core area, even as the work for further improving the quality and security features of the Indian passport booklet are going on.
In its previous term, the government as part of global public outreach efforts MEA had initiated the integration of the passport issuance system in the Indian missions and Posts abroad into the Passport Seva Project.
Since last October till date major passport issuing 25 Missions and Posts have been integrated and further steps are being taken to complete integrating all in a time-bound manner. “This integration will enable us to deliver passport and passport related services to our diaspora abroad in an even more efficient manner” said Jaishankar.
While complimenting the officials of the Central Passport Organization and Passport Officers, the minister said that on an average, more than 1 crore passports every year. He also acknowledged the cooperation the Ministry has been receiving from the State Police Authorities, the Department of Posts, and India Security Press, Nashik, and the service providers.
What is chip based passport?
The Ministry of External Affairs is soon going to have a chip based passport, the software for which has been developed by IIT-Kanpur and the National Informatics Centre (NIC). This passport will have a better quality of paper, better printing and be enabled with advanced security features. Approval has been given to the India Security Press, Nashik, for procuring electronic contactless inlays for manufacturing of e-passports.
Also, authorization for floating a three-stage global tender to get the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)-compliant electronic contactless inlays along with its operating system. This is critical for the printing of the e-passports. As has been reported by Financial Express Online, the personal details of the applicants will be digitally signed and stored in the chip. According to officials, in case it is tampered, the system will be able to identify it and the passport will not be authenticated.
About protecting the information store: the official explained that the chip is protected in a way that without physical protection, the details cannot be read.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation has put down norms acceptable universally on how the e-passports can be read, but it has no prescribed format on how personal information can be written and the safety features for e-passports.
The process for the e-passport was initiated in 2017, and as per plans, the first in line for these passports will be the diplomats and officials. Second in line will be the general public.
Other features of the E-Passport include:
*When time is of the essence in a crowded airport, the e-passport will take a few seconds to read.
*The e-passport prototype was tested in a US government identified laboratory.
*The new passports are expected to have thicker front and back covers.
*According to officials, the back cover is expected to have a small silicon chip.
*It will be smaller than a postage stamp and will have an embedded rectangular antenna.
*No commercial agency has been involved in keeping the security in mind.
*The chip will have 64 Kilobytes memory space.
*Holder’s photograph and fingerprints will be stored in the chip.
*And will have the capacity to store 30 visits and international movements.