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US postpones biometric passport plan - again

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The US government has again pushed back the date by which biometric information must be included in passports of foreigners visiting the country.

Countries with US visa waiver agreements are no longer required to issue their citizens with passports using chips that store biological information by 26 October, 2005.

Instead, governments must present the US with "an acceptable plan to begin issuing integrated circuit, or e-passports, within one year" by that 26 October date, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Thursday.

It's the latest setback in an e-passport plan that was already pushed back a year, from October 2004.

The DHS said simply it was making this latest change following consultation with Congress and the Department of State, however reports have said officials are having second thoughts on biometric passports having recognized the technical challenges inherent in implementing biometric systems.

Countries will now be required to issue their citizens with passports that support digital photographs, in a considerable downgrading of plans.®

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