Kiwi HP developers help deliver e-passports for Taiwan

Biometric passports to be issued to 23 million Taiwanese

By the end of the year, 23 million Taiwanese citizens will be using e-passports delivered through a system partly developed by Hewlett-Packard staff based in New Zealand.

Taiwan’s Bureau of Consular Affairs recently selected HP to to deliver a national identity system (NIS) that will issue of biometric e-passports citizens and ensure the integrity and security of Taiwanese passports.

The system will be developed by HP’s worldwide national identity practice, which includes the Christchurch-based NIS Centre of Excellence and other staff around the country. Other identity specialists are based in over 10 countries throughout Asia and Europe and also in the US.

HP's global NIS team has deployed national identity solutions worldwide, from Italy and the Slovak Republic to Poland, Israel, South Korea and also to New Zealand.

New Zealand's NIS global architecture lead, Wellington-based Gerard Harris, and senior developer Richard Schneider worked with the HP team in Taiwan to secure the epassport project and were intricately involved in the design and delivery of the solution, says Alex Bouma, national applications services manager based at HP's Christchurch development centre.

The New Zealand team in the Centre of Excellence has developed its expertise working collaboratively with HP’s global identity team, Bouma says.

The project aims to improve the detection of forged or altered passports and to ensure more convenient travel across borders.

HP’s National Identity System for Taiwan will be integrated with specialist solutions from Entrust, Safenet, 3M and Cryptometrics. The complete system is designed to meet the international security standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and ISO/IEC 19794-5.

Contactless chips (64KB) with ICAO security standards will be embedded in the e-passports. The chip contains the passport holder’s digital photo, biometric information and detailed passport information in electronic form. The data in the chip is endorsed by the BOCA to ensure the passport is not altered.

The chip would contain the passport holder's digital photo, biometric information and detailed passport information in electronic form. The data in the chip would be endorsed by the BOCA to ensure the passport was not altered.

"Apart from the biometric information [the face image], the chip basically contains the same biographic information as is printed on the passport data page; name, passport number, date of birth, issue date, expiry date, etc. The data in the chip is cryptographically secured using 'digital signatures,' so it can’t be forged," said Poh-Chuan Tan, HP's Asia Pacific and Japan public sector sales director.

"In a number of EU and Asian countries, fingerprints are also included. International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards also allow for iris biometrics to be used but this has not been widely adopted in e-passport yet."

Like many other governments, Taiwan is in the early stages of NIS development, while other countries, including South Korea, New Zealand, Italy and the Slovak Republic, have implemented similar biometric e-passport solutions.

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