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Finnish police pick Gemalto for e-passports and IDs

Finnish authorities sign new contract with digital security specialist to supply electronic identity documents for citizens

The National Police Board of Finland has selected digital security specialist Gemalto to supply the country’s new electronic passports, identity cards and resident permits. The first secure documents will be delivered in early 2017.

Passports and ID cards will be redesigned with new security features, said Hanna Piipponen, chief superintendent at the National Police Board. “Periodic renewal of these documents is a normal procedure,” she added.

The travel documents will be designed and manufactured at Gemalto’s offices in Vantaa, southern Finland. The company expects to produce between 800,000 and one million new documents each year.

The new passports will meet International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and European Union requirements. The passport holder’s digital photograph and fingerprints will be stored in the contactless microprocessor embedded in the passport’s polycarbonate data page.

“The passport design and exact security features will be decided by the National Police Board of Finland in the next couple of weeks,” said Tommi Nordberg, senior vice-president of government programmess at Gemalto.

“The objective is to select features that together provide the best protection against different types of security attacks and to prevent counterfeiting and fraud.”

Nordberg said the proposed security features include laser-engraved markings on the edge of the passport data page to protect it from delamination and cutting attempts, and a negative ghost image of the passport holder contained in a metallic foil hidden in a transparent window in the passport.

Gemalto claims it is virtually impossible to simultaneously manipulate both the document holder’s picture and the ghost image without leaving a visible trace.

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These features have been installed on various national identity cards and driving licences before, but Norberg said Finland is on track to be first country the use them in a passport.

“Thanks to [the passport’s] advanced performance, it will speed up border crossings in automated environments,” said Nordberg.

Gemalto will also be responsible for delivering the new documents, including the polycarbonate electronic ID and resident permit cards, through a nationwide network of retail outlets and delivery points.

Finland’s regulations are currently being changed to allow for a more streamlined ID application process, removing the need for people to visit a police station.

Piipponen added: “After the new [secure documents] are introduced, identity cards will have a similar electronic application process as passports. You can already start the identity card application process online, but it [currently] always requires a personal visit to a police station.”

The Finnish National Police Board chose Gemalto after a public procurement process last spring. The police board also represented Finland’s foreign ministry, immigration services and population registry service in the procurement. Gemalto is involved in more than 30 national e-passport programmes around the world.

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