The Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, announced chip-based electronic passports, and S Jaishankar, the Union external affairs minister, explained how they would enhance security. E-passports are expected to ensure smooth passage at immigration posts around the world, according to officials. According to Jaishankar, there will be multiple layers of security for e-passports.
‘The digital signature which will secure the data will be sent to other countries for recognition purposes,’ he told the Lok Sabha on Friday. The minister added that the electronic passports will ensure multiple layers of security since the information will be on paper, similar to regular passports, as well as on verifiable chips. Hindustan Times’ sister publication Livehindustan reported that Jaishankar further said e-passports would be available in six months.
It has been reported that the process has begun and letters of intent (LoIs) have been issued for 4.5 crore chips. The minister expressed confidence that within six months of awarding the contract, e-passports would be issued. According to Jaishankar, data security is ensured by inserting the code into the chip and printing it with a special printer. This process involves several steps. Jaishankar added that samples of e-passports are being tested to prevent data theft and skimming.
An overview of e-passports:
- In order to enhance security and convenience, a new passport jacket will include an electronic chip containing security-related information.
- The personal data of applicants would be encoded and digitally signed as part of the advanced security features of the passport chip.
- Any tampering with the passport will be identified and will result in the passport authentication failing.
- The new booklet will be produced at the India Security Press in Nashik, and the contactless inlays will be compliant with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).