DFAT calls for ePassport chips

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has requested both restricted and open tenders for integrated circuit...

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has requested both restricted and open tenders for integrated circuit chips, inlays, hardware, software and services for the first batch of prototype, new-age travel documents.

Dubbed ePassports, the prototypes will be tested over the next 12 to 18 months to evaluate how well the new technology performs in terms of its durability, reliability and interoperability with other systems linked to passport, immigration and border control applications.

The ePassport pilot programme is slated to start in October 2004. Around 6,000 passport units and 10 readers and writers will be supplied. Should the trials prove satisfactory, DFAT anticipates full-scale production of ePassports would be around one million per year.

According to DFAT tender documents, the new technology will be based on an "MRTD chip storing biometric [including facial image] and other data in a contact-less electronic chip in passports".

Chips for the passports will be required to be at least 8 bits and with built in cryptographic processing to an algorithmic minimum of 16-byte DES3.

In terms of security and authentication, the passports will use public key infrastructure with tender applicants restricted to those approved under the Australian Government Information Management Office's tightly-vetted Gatekeeper programme.

The tender closes on July 30.

Julian Bajkowski writes for Computerworld Today

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