Passport Security And New Technology

Posted on August 12, 2012 by Nikhil P Naik

The way in which people travel the world has changed quite significantly over the last decade. Not only is travelling more of a challenge but it can be more time consuming and more tedious for those who find themselves flying from one destination to another. These changes in travel are due in large part to both tighter security and the implementation of new and more advanced technology. This new technology has in fact brought up concerns related to privacy and cyber safety.

Changes in Security

The attacks of September 11th, 2001 not only changed the way in which Americans fly but it changed the way in which the world flies, especially those who fly in or out of the United States. There have been a number of transformations both to security measures and to aircraft themselves.

The cockpit doors on several aircraft are now strengthened and are bulletproof to help limit the potential for unauthorised access. Passengers are also no longer allowed to enter the cockpit during flights. There are even some aircraft that have CCTV cameras so that pilots have viewing access to everything that is taking place in the cabin. Some pilots also have the authority to carry a gun and in the United States, air marshals are used on certain flights to help increase security while in the air.

In different parts of the world, security within airports has also been substantially tightened and strengthened. BAA, Britain’s largest airport owner, launched a trial run of state-of-the-art body scanners to help alleviate the need for metal detectors and full body searches at airports. BAA trained staff are also using other detection techniques to single out suspicious passengers.

New Passports

Passport Checking


In October of 2010, IPS introduced the newest and latest version of the British Passport. It now features a brand new design and also includes several new and improved physical security features.

The biographical page which holds much of the personal details has moved to the very front of the passport and is now protected by a film of laminate. This laminate includes several holographic features which makes its forgery very difficult. The laminate also contains a serial number unique to that passport. There is also a secondary image of the passport’s holder printed on the observations page so that there is no substitution of the original facial image. The chip that holds several personal details is no longer visible and is placed inside the passport cover. Lastly, there are new designs as well as a new watermark that is comprised of the United Kingdom together with a watermark of a butterfly sitting on an oak leaf.



Biometrics is the set of unique physical characteristics that are used to identify an individual. This set of biometric information is gathered when one applies for permission to stay in the UK or for permission for a visa in the UK. When someone applies for either of these things, their fingers and thumbs are scanned and their photograph is taken digitally.

Biometric information is currently stored in a central government database in the UK and is checked against UK government records. It is protected as data under the current protection laws.

Concerns over the use of Biometrics

There are currently several concerns with the use of biometrics including its possible misuse. There is also just a general fear related to invasion of privacy by those who are asked to hand over some part of their biometric information. Some fear that fraudulent biometric identities could be developed and could ultimately threaten or challenge current laws and law enforcers.

There are also technological issues that arise from the use of biometrics. For example, greasy fingers on fingerprint scanners or the effect of variable lighting on face recognition cameras can have significant impacts and effects on the performance of biometrics. Many citizens also worry that their information or biometrics could be used for purposes for which they did not approve. For example, someone’s retina scan could be used to determine if they were susceptible to some kind of disease or medical condition. Biometrics may also lead to DNA profiling or gathering DNA information from those individuals who have given their biometric information. All of these doubts are being weighed against the potential positives of using biometrics for security purposes.

A big thank you goes out to Ladbrokes Online for their help with putting together this article and keeping us informed on new technology; always keep track of your identity online and offline!

Image source: 1 ,23

About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.


  1. Adam Brown says

    Hi Nikhil P Naik
    Thanks for this great post !
    The improved technology will definitely help in the security process.The biometric information stored in the data center will be really helpful.
    Thanks again

Leave a Comment


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.