Today fewer and fewer countries rely on old paper passports to identify citizens. Small books with photos are being replaced by biometric documents that will soon be replaced by digital passports issued on plastic cards and smartphones with NFC. Let’s look to the future and find out how the registration of citizens in digital states will be arranged.
Migration to electronic passports is an important step for any state and implementation of an e-government strategy. However, if conventional passports are simple to deal with – they can be easily produced, read and supplemented with various marks, then electronic passports require more attention to details and technical base. The main advantage of electronic documents is the data amount that they can carry.
If a fairly limited set of personal data can be entered in a traditional passport, the electronic version is a more meaningful tool for proving a person’s identity. Different countries provide a different set of information. Electronic passports can contain information on a blood type, medical insurance, and other information. However, such data may not be available for a passport holder.
It will be necessary to obtain special equipment to read this data. And in this case some difficulties may occur, for example, when concluding private transactions, we are used to proving an identity with passport data, which is open and can be easily read in a paper document. If some of this information is only available using an electronic reader, then this will cause a number of problems for people who do not have this equipment. It is possible that the spread of electronic passports will be the impetus for the standardization of the reading technology.
A general standard or home appliance will be introduced for getting basic data from an e-passport chip. Everything will depend on to what extent passport data will be in demand not only by special services. But they will definitely have to spend money on means of technical control, as it is planned that passports will combine other key services and rights. For example, passports will confirm the right to drive a car. For this purpose, it will be required not only to make a relevant entry, but also implement a procedure following which it will be possible to withdraw the right to drive without retaining or changing the passport itself. It is planned that passports will only serve as identifiers, while all relevant data will be stored on remote servers. That means by inserting the passport into the reading device, you can prove your identity, and each organization or employee of a certain structure will see a list of rights and opportunities assigned to this passport.
Many countries are planning to place a passport on a chip card. Europeans are ready to move even further and allow proving your personality with the help of a smartphone with an NFC chip. It will only be necessary to launch a special app on a smartphone. It is a convenient solution that excludes the possibility of losing a passport card and its fraud. Besides, smartphones as data “keepers” seem quite reliable. Based on this feature, serious payment systems already operate and allow paying for purchases at the terminals. This means that the security system is at a high level, similar to the banking one.
Yes, digital passports are a reliable way to identify a holder. All data about a person is encrypted and stored on the network. If we talk about such passports in terms of the reliability of information storage – they are certainly better than paper ones. No one except for the holders of special devices can access biometric or other, more detailed information, than the one marked on the carrier card.
Losing a digital passport is easy, on the one hand, and very difficult on the other. At this stage, a person needs to have a physical chip carrier, which is a card or a smartphone. But it doesn’t mean that the system cannot function without a piece of plastic. Would you agree that when information is stored on servers, there is no need to use it on the chip? This chip is a proof that the owner has passed a certain stage of state identification. But there are other ways to identify a person. Only in the last few years, new methods of biometric identification have emerged. Thus, iris or complex face and fingerprint testing can serve as a passport as well. Do not forget about the recognition system based on microchips implanted under the skin. Just a few years, and a citizen can be implanted with a passport at birth.
If we talk about the security of the existing digital data, then suggested solutions are quite reliable. But all depends on the server protection, where lists of our data and rights will be stored. If they can be edited without authorization, then it will result in much greater problems than paper documents fraud. As you know, paper fraud can be easily identified. But electronic traces are not so easy to notice, so the main developers’ task is to maximize protection of data that will be in remote access.
Paper documents will continue to exist for quite a long time despite progress in the creation of digital identification methods. The problem lies in the legislation of various states and financial costs to implement the latest technologies. Besides, digital documents will always be in focus of cyber criminals. Moreover, experts believe that the transition to digital passports will push the development of the shadow business, aimed at falsifying or altering such documents. And if the turnover of paper passports can still be controlled by simply counting the number of printed copies, then everything is not so simple with digital passports.
Governments of numerous countries are ready to expand the use of digital documents, but they are not sure that they can refuse from paper ones. To do this, first, it is necessary to create a single standard for reading and recording information, to merge databases of all citizens of any state. In fact, it contradicts the current world structure, with separate states and unions. Therefore, we can confidently say that a paper passport or its equivalent that will be used for stamps and visas will exist for a very long time. Local projects within each state will be developed. However, it leads to another problem – excessive collection of personal data. After all, if it is possible to limit the amount of data about a person in the paper passport, then the digital version implies an unlimited number of lines and personal data.