Following an extensive qualification process, the United States’ Government Printing Office has placed its first order with French-based Gemalto for electronic passports that will be issued in 2007, the company says. Gemalto’s secure operating system software running in a large capacity contactless chip will be embedded in a module integrated in the passport booklet cover.
Washington, DC–Gemalto, a world leader in digital security, announced that the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) placed its first order with the company, following Gemalto’s electronic passport technology qualification completion. The GPO and U.S. Department of State evaluated the Gemalto solution at their testing facilities and confirmed it fully satisfies the agency’s requirements for privacy protection, security, durability, manufacturing yield, and transaction speed and communications performance. The GPO, on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, plans to incorporate the electronic capability in all new passports to be issued in 2007. The United States produced over ten million passports in 2005.
“This award comes at the end of Gemalto’s successful completion of an extensive qualification process,” commented Ernie Berger, president of Gemalto North America. “Winning this contract gives us enormous satisfaction and we look forward to delivering the first electronic passports to U.S. citizens, as we fully support the GPO in this essential global security initiative. These new passports will greatly enhance the travel experience for U.S. citizens by providing effective, efficient and rapid passage through border control points with an additional element of security.”
The Gemalto electronic passport (e-passport) technology includes the company’s highly secure operating system software running in a large capacity contactless microprocessor chip. The chip is embedded in a module that is highly resistant to damage and then is integrated into the passport booklet cover. Leveraging the company’s 26 years of smart card experience, the Gemalto e-passport solution has been designed to provide superior durability and performance over the passport’s expected 10-year life span. Gemalto’s e-passport references include the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia and Sweden.
To better protect travellers, streamline immigration processes and improve the security of the passport booklet, the U.S. Department of State and the GPO, which assembles all U.S. passports, is issuing an electronic passport booklet in accordance with the standards developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), an agency of the United Nations. Last year, ICAO adopted the chip technology used in contactless smart cards as the standard for electronic passports in order to add a facial biometric and other security features to passport books.
The computer chip in the passport will contain all the information that is now printed on the document’s data page including a digitized photograph of the passport owner. The text data and the photograph can be read with a contactless reader at a border entry point and the electronically provided data can be compared to the information printed in the passport at issuance.
Not to be confused with RFID, secure personal identification devices using contactless smart card technology have built-in and active security and encryption capabilities to protect information access and communications. More than 30 nations worldwide have already pledged to adopt passport technology that conforms to an international standard for electronic identification data.
Gemalto (Euronext NL 0000400653 GTO) is a leader in digital security with pro forma 2005 annual revenues of ?1,7 billion ($2.2 billion), operations in 120 countries and 11,000 employees including 1,500 R&D engineers. The company’s solutions make personal digital interactions secure and easy in a world where everything of value -from money to entertainment to identities- is increasingly represented as bits and bytes communicated over networks.
Gemalto thrives on creating and deploying secure platforms, portable and secure forms of software in highly personal objects like smart cards, SIMs, e-passports, readers and tokens. More than a billion people worldwide use the company’s products and services for telecommunications, banking, e-government, identity management, multimedia content, digital rights management, IT security and other applications. Gemalto was formed in June 2006 by the combination of Axalto and Gemplus International S.A. For more information please visit www.gemalto.com.