Blunkett wins backing for digitised passports

David Blunkett has won backing for the use of digitised passports as part of a security clampdown across international...

David Blunkett has won backing for the use of digitised passports as part of a security clampdown across international boundaries.

The home secretary told a meeting of the G8 richest industrialised nations that more had to be done to prevent a repeat of the terrorist attack of 11 September 2001.

He said some countries were already falling behind in the use of computer and digital technology to help police national frontiers.

Blunkett is keen that other countries follow the UK's lead and introduce passport containing recognition factors such as iris scans, fingerprints and facial dimensions.

Hi-tech moves would make it much more difficult to forge passports or use stolen documents, said Blunkett.

The meeting agreed to start work on drawing up common standards for new "digital'' passports.

The events of 11 September and the growing threats of international terrorism, organised crime and human trafficking meant it was vital to improve the recognition and identification of people entering or leaving western countries, Blunkett said

The home secretary hoped the technology will be on UK passports by 2006, but he wants other G8 members to use the same, or similar technology, which is compatible with British systems.

Blunkett stressed to his fellow interior ministers that if different states used different and incompatible systems the result would be chaos.

The UK has been running a pilot on latest technology identification systems, particularly iris scanning and facial recognition data. Now that agreement has been reached, work on the new-style travel documents will proceed rapidly with information and technical expertise being pooled.

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