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US May Change Passport Requirements

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A controversial change that would require nations to issue biometric passports to US-destined visitors may be in the works.

International concern about US requirements for biometric passports may be in the process of being revamped. The US standard was going to be more demanding than an existing international one.

According to AP, the new passports will still have digital photographs required to match someone’s unique physical appearance by October. And later versions will require the embedded identification chip.

But for now, an anonymous source at Homeland Security has told AP that this will suffice. New standards will be announced by that department at a later date.

The US standard initially required biometric chips in passports for visitors from countries that do not have to apply for a US visa. Those chips would have had to contain either fingerprints or iris photographs to make them vastly more difficult to counterfeit.

Those 27 countries had until October 2004 to meet the requirement, which they were unable to do. Now, the US requirement will be that of the United Nations set in 2003. The UN guidelines only require digital photos and information normally carried in the passport to be in the ID chip.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff endorsed the US commitment to biometric passports.

“Right now, in many ways we are using the most primitive kind of screening – meaning we screen for names that match lists of terrorists and criminals,” Chertoff said during a trip to Brussels. “And of course, names are not the best way to identify people. They’re certainly not as good as biometrics.”

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

US May Change Passport Requirements
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