Biometrics: The Party Pooper of Passport Stamps

face getting scanned by red laser

One of the fun parts of international travel was collecting passport stamps, a tangible memento from each country visited. You’d flash open your passport and flip through the stamps, each a memory from a country explored. Today, this tradition is being replaced by a more efficient, secure system – biometrics. The adoption of ePassports, which contain a chip storing biometric data, such as facial, fingerprint, or iris recognition, has stepped in and is ruining the fun of collecting stamps.

Welcome to the world of biometrics, where a computer gets more face-time with you than the immigration officer. Biometrics, for those who’ve been living under a rock, is a fancy term for using your unique physical or behavioral traits (think fingerprints or eyeball patterns) to identify you. It’s like a high-tech version of a mother identifying her identical twins.

So, what’s happened to our beloved passport stamps? The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) says over 150 countries are now issuing ePassports. That’s right, your passport is now a microchipped pet, storing all your biometric data. They’re all about speeding up those snaking airport queues and clamping down on the sneaky folks with dodgy passports. And sure, it’s nice to breeze through immigration without having to practice your smile for the officer. But what about the thrill of that passport thump, the inked proof of your globetrotting prowess?

And then there’s the Big Brother aspect. Your biometric data is now stored somewhere in the cloud, ripe for the picking. Makes you miss the days when your biggest worry was losing your passport in a hostel, doesn’t it? So, here we are, in a world where a chip replaces your travel diary. The humble passport stamp, once a colorful testament to your wanderlust, is being booted out by cold, hard data. As we zoom into this digital future, let’s take a moment to mourn the loss of our ink-filled travel trophies. Because, let’s be real, an ePassport chip just doesn’t have the same playful potential as a passport teeming with colorful stamps, does it?

James Rice – Chief Digital Officer