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Interpol sets standard in electronic passports

Ronald Noble, Interpol's secretary general, said that the electronic passport will be issued to the heads of Interpol's 187 National Central Bureaus (NCBs) around the world, as well as executive committee members and staff from its general secretariat headquarters.

In his keynote address to the 5th Symposium and Exhibition on International Civil Aviation Organisation - covering machine readable travel documents, biometrics and security standards - Noble said that the electronic passport will allow Interpol seniors to travel securely and freely throughout the world.

"Criminals can cross borders swiftly and effortlessly, while our heads of national central bureaus and even our headquarters staff are slowed down or stopped because of bureaucratic international red tape, which constitutes a major impediment to keeping the world safe", he said.

"The introduction of the Interpol electronic passport marks a significant step forward not only in enabling law enforcement officers to carry out their duties, but also in setting global standards for secure travel documents, especially as the use of fraudulent passports by terrorists poses the number one threat to the safety and security of citizens everywhere."

The electronic passport, which will incorporate security features such as laser engraving, an electronic chip, and holographic, micrographic and optical security elements, will be developed by the EDAPS Consortium, which leads a grouping of 20 suppliers from 12 countries.

Noble said the quality of the features offered in EDAPS' electronic passport - combined with the fact that Interpol's sensitive biometric data would always remain under Interpol's jurisdiction - proved decisive in the selection of the consortium.

Plans call for the electronic passport standard to be unveiled at the next Interpol general assembly, which opens in Singapore on 11 October.