New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has plans to roll out chip-enabled e-passports for Indians to improve data security and ensure the next level of customer experience, after the Government inked an agreement with Tata Consultancy Services Ltd for the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP-V2.0) on January 7.
Tata Consultancy, which has been working with the MEA for the past decade in its first phase, has bagged the second phase of PSP, in which it will fit new and renewed passports with micro-chip embeds that will hold all the biometric data of the passport holder.
Under the programme, MEA plans to design and ensure that support functions like citizen interface, technology backbone, call centres, training and change management are provided by the service provider.
While, the government will continue to exercise all sovereign and security-related functions in the passport issuance process, which means the issuance and printing of the passport will remain with the Government.
The project has plans to install Data Centre, Disaster Recovery Centre and Government Secure Repository which will be linked to all PSKs and POPSKs.
At present, 93 PSKs, 428 POPSKs and 36 passport offices are operational across the country. The programme has recently been connected to more than 176 Indian missions and posts through the Global Passport Seva Programme (GPSP), according to the MEA.
The TCS said it will refresh existing facilities and systems, and develop innovative solutions to enable the issuance of e-passports and further enhance the citizen experience, using the latest technologies.
New Features of PSP-V2.0
The new e-passports programme will see technology upgrade with the use of biometrics, artificial intelligence, advance data analytics, chat-bot, auto-response, natural language processing, cloud enablement, according to MEA.
The e-passports will have advanced security features such as a chip storing personal details of a holder of the document embedded in the physical passport booklet.
“The key elements of PSP-V 2.0 are setting up of a state-of-art digital ecosystem, process overhauling and integration among various stakeholders and database, improving citizen interface, upgrading technology, adopting best practices and strengthening data security,” the MEA said in a statement.
Key Difference Between The New e-Passport and Current Passport
At present, the booklet passports have personal details on the first and the last page of the document and stamped visas to denote the travel history of the holder, however, the micro-chip embedded e-passport booklet will stop leakage of personal data by storing the biometric details of the citizen safely and away from regular scanning at the airport.
The PSP-V2.0 is a continuation and enhancement of PSP-V1.0, an e-governance instrument that the MEA said introduced “unprecedented” transformation in the delivery of passport-related services to citizens.
MEA has further added that security aspects, including strategic assets such as data centres, database and the application software, will be owned by the government, adding there would be strict access controls across the system, incorporating biometrics.
The MEA said the attributes of being responsive, caring, considerate, and transparent would continue to be the guiding principle of the passport seva programme.
(With inputs from PTI)