Thales soothes biometric passport jitters

Thales soothes biometric passport jitters

French provider vows compliance with law

Mr Yeo says Thai citizens will benefit from the highest level of performance of the secure embedded software for fast border crossing.
Mr Yeo says Thai citizens will benefit from the highest level of performance of the secure embedded software for fast border crossing.

French tech solutions provider Thales is providing assurances that data security protections are reliable for the new biometric passports that it will start delivering to the Foreign Ministry from April next year.

In July, the ministry awarded the DGM Consortium, which includes Gemalto, a member of the Thales Group, a contract to supply 15 million e-passports to Thailand over the next seven years.

"The DGM Consortium will implement a highly secure end-to-end electronic passport system that will strictly comply with the Personal Data Protection Act of Thailand," said Winston Yeo, senior vice-president for identity and biometric solutions at Thales.

Mr Yeo said the company's core ethos is to provide services protecting people and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of business operations.

"Please do not worry about personal data and security features because we are using solutions operated by the consortium," he said.

The contract requires delivery of passports nine months after signing.

The contract is one of the largest passport programmes for the Thales Group, Mr Yeo said.

He said Thales has been in Thailand for over 30 years, opening the first representative office in Bangkok in 2005. The company cooperates with Thai partners in five main areas: aviation, space, defence, security and transport.

Thales group completed the acquisition of Gemalto in April 2019. Gemalto is a world leader in identity and biometrics, artificial intelligence, big data, IoT, connectivity and payment services.

According to the group, Thai citizens can look forward to a newly-designed 64-page biometric travel document that includes an e-Cover with a thin, flexible datapage made of polycarbonate as well as a window containing a second image of the citizen and a true colour UV photo.

Mr Yeo said Thai citizens will benefit from the highest level of performance of the secure embedded software for fast border crossing.

Massimo Marinzi, country director of Thales Thailand, said the group has developed some of the world's most sophisticated e-passports that support governments' efforts in the use of biometrics to ensure quick and secure cross-border movement.

In July, the foreign ministry indicated iris data would be required for applicants of new passports in addition to finger prints and facial images. This data would be part of the identity verification process in the future, the ministry said.

The Thailand Information Security Association (Tisa) later complained about the government's move to store citizens "biometric data", such as eye and facial images, saying this stored data is at risk of being leaked and stolen.

The theft of biometric data would be precarious for individuals because a person cannot change his or her bio-identity, Tisa said.

Mr Marinzi said Thales in a consortium with River Engineering entered into a contract with the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) last month for designing, delivering and upgrading the SRT's signalling system to European Train Control System Level 1 to improve protections across 48 train stations around Bangkok.

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