Biometric passports apply state of the art computer technology with the capability of storing personal information, digitized picture, and fingerprints as well as allow facial and iris recognition by computers in airport terminals. These are the electronic features that have already been achieved in biometric passports that are already issues. The contribution of biometrics technology in developing electronic passports is yet to be exhausted. Although biometric passports have been adopted by almost twenty states, these countries have developed biometrics technology for passports in varying degrees. In the United States, biometric passports only contain personal information and fingerprints but the system in place holds the capability of enhancing electronic passport features in the future when needed. In the United Kingdom, biometric passports only allow for personal information and fingerprinting similar to the U.S. but enhancements are currently being considered. In Australia, its biometric passports have been enhanced to deliver face recognition feature. (“Part 1,” 2005; “Part 2,” 2005) differences in the extent of development of biometric passport features in different states could imply variances in perceptions of the importance or viability of biometric passports as an alternative to the traditional paper passports.
Apart from the differentiated development of biometric passports, there are only a limited number of states, mostly in developed countries, that developed biometric technology for passport identification indicating the limited acceptance for biometric passports (Furnell & Evangelatos, 2007). This could be due to the weighing of factors including the extent of technology capital needed and the risks with the benefits. In addition, there have been concerns in the use of biometric passports such as security and privacy of information together with other emerging problems (Lockie, 2008). These question the probability of the widespread application of biometric passports. There is need to investigate these implications by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of biometric passports emerging from praxis. The study seeks to investigate these issues by looking into the advantages and disadvantages of biometric passports in the context of the perceptions of states toward biometric passports, current rate development of biometric passports, and future plans for biometric passports.
Goals of the Study
The main goal of the study is to investigate the advantages and disadvantages of biometric passports and the implications of these on the development and viability of biometric passports for national and international identification through the collection and analysis of in-depth data from various sources. The specific goals of the study include:
- To collect secondary data from previous studies and papers or reports made by government authorities and organizations on biometric passports to comprise a framework for the study;
- To gather primary data from government agencies or organizations directly involved in the development and implementation of biometric passports, particularly in the United States;
- To conduct an analytical study on the advantages and disadvantages of biometric passports to derive multi-dimensional implications;
- To contribute to the pool of knowledge on biometric passports and the underlying areas of study; and
- To derive conclusions and recommendations for future studies.
The main research question is what are the advantages and disadvantages of biometric passports in the context of the current experiences of states, particularly in the United States, employing this type of passport. The sub-questions include:
- How did biometric technology come to be used in passports?
- What are the causes or reasons for the introduction of biometric passports?;
- How do biometric passports work?;
- What are the trends in the development and utilization of biometric passports based on the actual experiences of states, especially in the United States, issuing biometric passports?;
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of biometric passports based on the actual experiences of states, particularly the United States, employing this identification system?;
- What are the implication of the advantages and disadvantages of biometric passports in terms of implications on the widespread adoption and utilization of biometric passports as an alternative identification?;
- What issues have arisen in the development and utilization of biometric passports?
- What challenges have arisen in the development and utilization of biometric passports?
- What are the planned future developments in biometric passports?
Measurement of Research Questions
The investigation will employ the qualitative research design because the purpose of the study is to derive accounts (Holloway, 1997; Creswell, 2003) of the experiences of the development and utilization of biometric passports in the United States within the context of the global development of biometric passports to determine the advantages and disadvantages of this technology-based identification system. Method of data collection is a combination of secondary research and interviews with the government agencies involved in the development and implementation of biometric passports. The interview employs a questionnaire with open-ended questions to facilitate uniformity in the primary data collection process (Holloway, 1997; Creswell, 2003). After the collection of primary data, this will be assessed through the classification of answers into the categories of advantages and disadvantages before deriving implications on different dimensions such as on air transportation operations efficiency and security and rights of individuals.
Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research design. qualitative and quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Furnell, S., & Evangelatos, K. (2007). Public awareness and perceptions of biometrics. Computer Fraud & Security, 2007(1), 8-13.
Holloway, I. (1997). Basic concepts for qualitative research. Lowa: Iowa State University.
Lockie, M. (Ed.) (2008). A grand challenge awaits biometrics. Biometrics Technology Today, 16(1), 2-3.
Part 1: Biometrics and ePassports (2005). Biometric Technology Today, 13(6), 10-11.
Part 2: ePassports (2005). Biometrics Technology Today, 13(7), 11-12.