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e-passport

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    17th May, 2022

Context

The government is using technology to usher in transparency. It is now planning to roll out e-passports soon.

About

What is e-passport?

  • According to the proposal, the e-passport will be a combination of paper and electronic passport, with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip.
  • An antenna will be embedded as an inlay in the back cover.
  • The passport’s critical information will be stored in the chip and printed on the data page.
  • The characteristics of the e-passport are specified by the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations.

Privacy and Security:

  • The government clarified that data of the citizens obtained for e-passport will be used only for the purposes of issuance of the passport and related services.
  • There will not be any secondary use of the data, thereby safeguarding privacy concerns.
  • Further transaction processes are authenticated by digital certificates and are cryptographically signed.
  • Once captured, the data is stored in a secured industry-standard database.
  • The Security Operations Centre will perform relevant database security-related controls round the clock.

Implementation and technical responsibilities:

  • Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has reportedly bagged the contract for delivering e-passports. 
  • While the government will source the hardware chips, TCS will be responsible for their encoding.
  • The government has entrusted National Informatics Centre (NIC) with the technical responsibilities.
  • The e-passports will be produced by the India Security Press in Maharashtra’s Nashik, which has issued letters of intent for the procurement of 4.5 crore ICAO-compliant electronic chips.
  • Interestingly, the government issued India’s first e-passport with biometric details to former President Pratibha Patil in 2008.
  • E-passports enhance the security of passports, eliminate duplication, eliminate data tampering and will be used by border control authorities for monitoring the entry and exit of passengers.

What Is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)?

  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology that uses radio waves to passively identify a tagged object.
  • It is used in several commercial and industrial applications, from tracking items along a supply chain to keeping track of items checked out of a library.
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a type of passive wireless technology that allows for tracking or matching of an item or individual.
  • The system has two basic parts: tags and readers.
    • The reader gives off radio waves and gets signals back from the RFID tag, while the tag uses radio waves to communicate its identity and other information.
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