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Biometrics won't deter passport fraudsters, chief admits

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The head of the UK’s passport agency has confirmed that a tightening up of passport standards, including the inclusion of biometric information, will not eliminate sophisticated fraud or terrorism.

Bernard Herdan, chief executive of the UK Passport Service, told the Financial Times that tighter passport standards “will make a huge difference” in combating organized crime and illegal immigration.

But, he said, "when you get into the domain of terrorism and really sophisticated fraud I'm not saying this will stop everything from ever happening... It is less evident that tougher passport standards are going to prevent terrorism.”

Herdan was pretty candid on forgers’ ability to circumvent new security measures, saying the agency would have to keep changing designs and would have to change its technology “more frequently than every ten years” as it races to keep ahead of forgers.

Herdan’s comments come as the US continues to stampede the rest of the world into including biometric information in their passports even as further flaws are revealed in America’s own passport strategy.

The International Herald Tribune reports that a Government Accountability Office investigation has revealed lax oversight by the State Department means determined criminals, illegal immigrants and potential terrorists are able to obtain US passports if they put their mind to it. Undesireables were able to secure US passports because applications were not routinely checked and the government was not cracking down on the supply of dodgy supporting documents the paper said.®

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