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Electronic chip not just about passport security

3 November 2005

Electronic chip not just about passport security

Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker's claim that the new 'e-passport' is mainly being introduced to enhance the security of the document is being disputed by Green Party Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke.

The new e-passport will contain an electronic chip that will carry information about its holder, in a move designed to enhance the security and protect the integrity of the travel paper.

"The chip will make the passport more tamper proof, but the driving force for the change was the Bush Administration's desire to have an electronic facial recognition system for overseas visitors," Mr Locke says.

"Each chip will contain the digitally mapped contours of the Kiwi passport holder's face, which are then checked against an American database of facial images and a photo of each visitor to the US, taken as they pass through Immigration.

"It is part of a global move for greater biometric identification of citizens, driven out of America and Britain.

"The electronic facial maps could be the thin end of the wedge. What is to stop a future government adding biometric markers such as fingerprints and iris patterns, as is being projected in Britain, or other information?

"The Blair government has said the new biometric passports are the first step towards a universal British ID card. Most New Zealanders don't want an ID card here, so we should be concerned about what is happening to our passports," Mr Locke says.

ENDS

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