Soon, all newly issued U.S. passports will include a digital image of the bearer's face and biographic information on the electronic chip embedded in the passport. US government is to conduct a pilot test for the issuance of biometric passports to its employees, starting in December 2004, and issuance to the general public is expected to begin in the first quarter of calendar year 2005. By the end of 2005, all domestically produced U.S. passports will be biometric passports.
Both Canada and the UK are also planning to introduce biometric passports in 2005. Since late 2003 the British government has been running a biometric enrolment pilot, evaluating issues around biometric recording using facial recognition, and fingerprint.
The biggest concerns expressed by civil rights groups surround the facial recognition technology which analyzes images of human faces for the purpose of identifying them. A facial recognition system is a computer software taking a facial image, and conducting series measurements, such as the distance between the eyes, the angle of the jaw, and the length of the nose. Then, a unique file is created which can be compared with another image by the software.
The U.S. government studies of face-recognition computer programs have found high rates of both "false positives" and "false negatives"