Australian and New Zealand citizens could soon travel between the two countries without carrying a physical passport – instead, utilising a ‘cloud passport’ which stores essential information on government servers and can be accessed by border agencies electronically.
Also retained would be a form of biometric data such as a fingerprint or digital photograph to assist in matching travellers to the correct digital identity when crossing the border, and would eventually render the traditional passport redundant.
Governments of the two countries are now in talks to trial the technology, says Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who also believes the concept would be rolled out globally over time.
Significantly, it would eliminate the issue of lost and stolen passports – with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reporting 38,718 cases in the last year alone – but would present a new host of security hurdles to overcome: particularly in regards to passenger movement.
Biometric identification is increasingly being used around the world with countries such as Malaysia, Japan and the United States relying on fingerprints to identify travellers, and Australia and New Zealand on a computer algorithm that analyses a traveller’s facial features against their passport photograph via SmartGate.
Australia’s government agencies already store every traveller’s border crossing details electronically, including information such as passport numbers, dates of travel and the contents of handwritten incoming and outgoing passenger cards, which are scanned and later saved digitally.
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