Passport Office Update on Digital Service


In the six months since the Open Identity Exchange published its White Paper, Digital ID Photo Sending Service, the use of digital photographs to assert identity has been gathering pace.

In the private sector, venture capital continues to pour into this space. Retailers such as Timpson are exploring opportunities to develop in this field, while governments like Estonia pilot new partnerships with commercial service providers.

In the public sector, alongside the building of momentum with GOV.UK Verify, Her Majesty’s Passport Office has been piloting a new online service where customers who are renewing their passport can submit their photograph electronically. The Customer uploads the photo, either taken with at home or from a commercial service provider, and it’s immediately checked for International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) compliance. Over the next few months, this pilot service will be extended as a public beta on GOV.UK.

The beta coincides with the growing demand by passport customers asking for an electronic photo for their passport. This type of digital passport photo service already exists today in New Zealand and the USA, and increasingly constitutes a core part of enabling improved public and private sector services.  Photos and other biometrics are now playing an increasingly important role in supporting interactive strategies for customer authentication or verification. The proliferation of new photo/biometric-based authentication services will play an increasingly pivotal part of solutions that can ensure personal data is secured and privacy protected throughout the entire supply chain.
Don Thibeau