I am very excited: something very special happened the other day.

My front door bell rang, I bounded down two floors of stairs to get there in time to find a delivery man from SMS (Secure Mail Services that IPS uses to deliver passports). Having signed, I took delivery of my seven-year-old son’s replacement passport.

Back upstairs I opened the envelope to discover that he has been issued with a biometric passport, complete with smart chip and antenna embedded in a page at the back. When we get back from Turkey, I’ll take it straight to our lab in Guildford for testing. Last time I did something like this, I found something surprising 🙂

A few hours later the same day my son’s cancelled passport was returned by regular mail with its cover corners snipped off. I’d been required to get him his first passport when he was one year old and before the ICAO photographic regualtions applied that disallow smiling, hats, wigs and false moustaches. I couldn’t help notice how much happier he looked when he was one and how much like a criminal he looks now that he is not allowed to smile for the camera.

I was reminded of the Biometric enrolment trials that UKPS conducted for the Home Office during which I was issued a smart "this is not an ID card" card and was told that its chip contained the biometrics that I had just enrolled (images of face, fingerprints, irises). To prove it, they allowed me to verify myself against one (and only one) of the biometrics. I chose face because I know that this works least well and requires controlled lighting conditions to work at all. It went "beep" and my facial image appeared on the console. "There we are, you’ve been verified" I was told. I was sceptical. I took the smart card back to our lab for interrogation. It turns out that there were no files stored on the chip at all!

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