Foreign Minister Denies Cybersecurity concerns over e-passport
- The government is aware of concerns over data theft for existing passports, and the soon-to-be issued e-passports and has taken adequate precautions to ensure privacy and safety, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar told Parliament on Friday.
- The statement was issued amidst a lively exchange over both electronic chip safety for passports as well as whether their launch would “ignore” certain States or be rolled out uniformly across the country.
- An e-Passport is a chip-enabled passport with a biometric identification card strengthening the transparency and security of travel documents.
- It is based on the use of contactless smart card technology.
- The personal details of the applicants would be digitally signed and stored in the chip, embedded in the passport booklet.
- In case of tampering with the chip will result in the failure of the passport authentication.
- The e-passports will be produced at India Security Press, Nashik.
- Till now, passports are issued in the form of personalised printed booklets.
- The first e-passport in India was issued to the then President of India Pratibha Patil on 25 June 2008 by the Indian Passport Authority.
- The software for the ePassport has been developed by IIT Kanpur and the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
- NIC under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is the technology partner of the Government of India.
- ePassport is an upgrade to the traditional passport and is aimed at making it more secure and ensuring smooth passage through immigration posts globally.
- The e-passport will be secured with biometric data.
- The e-passport will enable smooth passage through immigration posts across the world.
- The e-passport will be in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards.
- The chip on the e-passport will restrict the unauthorised transfer of data through radio-frequency identification (RFID).
- The e-passport will also deter identity theft and forgery.
Security and Privacy Concerns
- The issue of security and a citizen’s right to privacy (under Article 21 of the Constitution) has been much a regular topic of debate nationally and internationally.
- Introduction of e-passports may hamper this right as it puts all of the personal data of the citizens on a domain of privacy.
- Similarly security issues raised when the citizens were expected to link their mobile and other personal details with their Aadhaar.
Issue of Data Skimming
- Skimming is a procedure in which criminals clone digital cards and documents with stolen data.
- The skimmers which cannot be usually spotted by an untrained eye have circuitry that reads and stores the data on the chip.
- The issue was also raised in the Parliament to which the Government has responded that it has been taken care of.
Passport Seva Programme (PSP):
- It is one of the several Mission Mode Projects (an individual project within the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) that focuses on one aspect of electronic governance, such as banking, land records or commercial taxes etc.) of India.
- This is an expansion and improvement of the PSP-V1.0, an e-government tool that brought new changes to the delivery of passport-related services to individuals.
- It is aimed at creating a digital platform that would be “transparent, more accessible and reliable” and that it would be backed by a trained workforce.
- This will create a state-of-the-art digital ecosystem, overhaul existing processes and integrate various wings of Government that are involved in issuance of passports.
- It is expected to have technology upgrades including the use of the latest biometrics technology, Artificial Intelligence, Advance Data Analytics, Chat-Bot, Auto-response, Natural Language Processing, Cloud Enablement.