Project Overview



Passport breeder documents are essential documents for obtaining e-passports and then crossing borders. The introduction of secure passport breeder documents would represent an enormous step forward over previously used paper-based documents for increasing the reliability and security of the issuance process of e-passports, and hence enhancing border security, since:

  • The security features and mechanisms make forgery of documents extremely difficult, and
  • Possible biometric verification links the document to the authorized owner or his/her related, and hinders the misuse of authentic documents.

As e-passports are being used in millions of units in real world conditions, it is of utmost importance to solve its weakest security point, which is currently the application process and issuance, but also to strengthen the confidence in this so-called secure document by filling the gaps of the breeder documents and ensuring a respect of privacy. Addressing this weakness will have a major impact on the political, societal and economic level:

  • On the political and societal level, it is important that stakeholders and users of the e-passport can have trust in the efficiency of e-passport for ID checks, in the security of the data that is processed, and in the respect of privacy principles.
  • On the economic level, the impact can be measured regarding on the one hand the reduction of criminal acts based on identity fraud, and hence the decrease of fraud management cost (in particular the currently undetected fraud), and on the other hand regarding the strong business potential created for European companies.

The major impact of ORIGINS is to restore trust and confidence in e-passports and its breeder documents by recommending solutions that overcome the identified security limitations whilst protecting the privacy of the e-passport holders. This is not only important to enable the further deployment of e-passports, but also other ID documents: as a matter of fact, other documents issued by some MS rely on the passport breeder documents, such as e.g. ID cards, residence permits, application for naturalization, application for a wedding/divorce, or registration in the commercial register.

The project is timely as can be seen from recent publications, such as:

  • The Frontex report paper on Operational and Technical Security of Electronic Passports about problems identified in the e-passport issuing process [5], issued in July 2011;
  • The Presidency of the EU, held by Cyprus, suggested the creation of an ‘EU Harmonized Handbook to the detection of travel documents’ and the ‘development of minimum security standards for breeder documents’, in 2012 ;
  • The questioning in the British House of Commons on the further deployment of e-passports corresponding to the EU standard in the UK ;
  • The Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States [34];
  • The Joint Statement by the European Parliament and the Council concerning the need to increase the security of passports and travel documents by using secure breeder documents.

In particular the work expected in ORIGINS follows perfectly the recommendations of:
1. The European Commission, as the opinion of EDPS highlights it: “Although the EDPS welcomes the objective of the Commission to enhance passport’s security measures, he would like to stress that the passport is only one link of a security chain starting from these "breeder" documents and ending at the border check points; and that this chain will only be as secure as its weakest link. The EDPS therefore recommends the Commission to propose additional measures for harmonizing the way in which "breeder" documents are produced and which of them are required for a passport.”
2. The joint statement by the European Parliament and the Council: “Without prejudice to the competence of the Member States to issue passports and other travel documents, the European Parliament and the Council underline that the objective of enhancing the security of passports may be undermined if passports are issued on the basis of unreliable "breeder documents"… The Council shall therefore prepare a questionnaire for the Member States in order to be able to compare the procedures and which documents are required in each Member State in order to issue a passport or travel document. This analysis should assess the possible need for the creation of common principles or guidelines on best practice in this area.”
The project therefore clearly undertakes to achieve the work required by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council.

A successful ORIGINS project will hence have a significant impact for all stakeholders concerned by secure documents as summarized hereafter:

Stakeholder Impact
European Union and MS ORIGINS will help Member States to establish the security of the entire passport breeder document life cycle. Hence, it will complete the security of e-passports and increase reliability of ID checks at borders. Moreover, passport breeder documents could be a potential reference for other documents. Project results will be transmitted via the EU Article 6 group to stakeholders of MS.
The citizen More secure breeder documents will contribute to better protect the citizen against the consequences of identity theft. Indirectly, they will also hinder criminal and terrorist movements and hence protect the citizen. A highly important impact for the citizen will be the strong attention put on privacy requirements: ORIGINS will make recommendations on passport breeder documents and its issuance process by taking into account cost-effective and privacy respecting approaches for all solutions envisioned in the project.
Standard making bodies CEN, at a European level through AFNOR, but also organisations that elaborate the travel document specifications or recommendations such as NTWG of ICAO will benefit from the recommendations prepared by ORIGINS, which they can then assess and take up.
Border control authorities, the police The impact for authorities responsible for border security and law enforcement will be the availability of more reliable ID check solutions, and improved interoperability with existing traveller information related data bases, which will allow them better control migration flows on the one hand, and criminal movements across borders on the other hand. Further other owners of control processes such as the national police authorities will benefit from trustworthy documents.
National breeder document and e-passport issuing institutions ORIGINS will propose to overcome the weak point of e-passport (and potentially other ID document) issuing process and to make it more secure and efficient, by proposing solutions to rely on authentic breeder document in a standardized format.

Improvement of passport breeder document security

ORIGINS will thoroughly study the weaknesses of passport breeder documents and of e-passport issuing process and make recommendations to address those throughout its entire life cycle:

  • The passport breeder document application and issuance process,
  • The passport application and issuance process,
  • The verification of passport breeder document,
  • The storage of passport breeder document.

ORIGINS project results will hence have an important impact on the e-passport security and integrity, which is recognized as a key issue: “The integrity of passports and other travel documents is a key component of national and international anti-crime and anti-terrorism strategies. Because travel documents can be powerful tools in the hands of criminals or terrorists, controlling the security of a country’s travel document and its issuance processes directly impacts not only national and international security but also international respect for the integrity of the document.”
Furthermore, passports breeder documents are not only used for obtaining a passport, but are often also used for other operations that required identification of the holder, such as opening bank accounts, application for naturalization, or accessing governmental services and benefits. A more secure passport breeder document will hence also have an impact in various other public and private applications, in which fake identities can generate important financial losses.
A secure and trusted passport breeder document is also a certificate for EU citizen abroad. Improvement of the full cycle of passport breeder document is a must to offer to EU citizen the expected consideration around the world.

Impact on the European citizen and the Society

As mentioned above, more secure breeder documents will hinder movements of criminals and terrorists by completing the security chain of the whole e-passport issuance, and hence contribute to reduce the potential exposure of the citizen. But another type of crime is steadily increasing that has a potentially very bad impact for a citizen and increasing cost for the society: identify theft. This major issue is stated by the EDPS in its opinion on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States: “There are wide differences between the laws of the Member States of the EU in this respect. The way "breeder" documents are produced in the Member States as well as the documents which are required for the delivering of a passport show a great diversity of situations and procedures, which are bound to decrease the quality of data in passports and even to foster the risk of identity theft.” According to the CREDOC , identity theft has become the most frequent crime in France (210,000 cases in 2008) before robbery (153,000 cases) and car theft (130,000).
The impact of ORIGINS will be to prevent identity usurpation for passport, but also for all other administrative steps needing a breeder document as a proof of identity and leading to a valid ID document. It will then increase the reliability and the confidence in the issuance of identity documents, and therewith contribute to hinder criminal acts based on impersonated identities, which represents a strong impact for European citizens. It will be for instance in correlation with the migration/travel of children in general and illegal migration in particular. The project will also avoid political scandal such as the one that occurred in Latvia in 2013 because of the issuing of birth certificates, which are now simple print-outs from a database on writing paper.The project will organise a series of elite interviews and report the opinions and views of key government officers, border agency high rank personnel, police officers involved in migration control and repression of illegal migration. It will also include managers of companies, be they private, public or involved in public procurement, concretely generating or/and issuing breeder documents. The involvement of these groups of key stakeholders will allow for anticipating the social impact and address the potential obstacles generated by the adoption of increased security of breeder documents.
Societal impact will be evaluated in its main positive and negative aspects. In particular the project will 1) define and document the main societal needs which justify ORIGINS and 2) the main societal threats that ORIGINS aims to contribute to mitigate. Moreover we will 3) identify the main societal segments which are expected to benefit directly from ORIGINS, and the 4) expected benefit for the overall European society. We shall then contrast findings of (1), (2), (3), (4) with the possibility that ORIGINS could also have a negative impact on the rights and values enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights (e.g. freedom of association, freedom of expression, protection of personal dignity, privacy and data protection etc.), and the specific risks that ORIGINS could impact disproportionately upon specific groups or unduly discriminate against them. Finally a strategy for post-action implementation, which aims to maximize positive impacts and to prevent, or at least, mitigate risks of negative impacts, will be proposed.
The results of the critical inventory of resources on the ethical and privacy aspects related to the digitalization of breeder documents will allow citizens, policy makers, scholars, and other stakeholders to better weight the trade off between security and other fundamental rights, such as the right to leave one’s country. In addition, it will be possible to identify and analyse a few exemplar, concrete, real life cases to be used by ORIGINS consortium to evaluate the technology solutions for increased breeder documents security identified during the project. This will allow improving the reliability of the process of e-passport taking into consideration the social impact.

European Dimension

Current practice of security policy development in Europe is characterised by national focus on a limited number of leading themes. The project ORIGINS aims at ensuring that MS agree on minimal features for the issuance of breeder documents. This is a typical topic that relies on the EC M487 Mandate which concerns the development of a work programme for the definition of European Standards and other standardisation activities in the area of security. Among the fields identified by the M487 initiative, Border Security has been identified as a key issue, detailing the three ways for controlling the access to the Schengen area: Land border / Check Points, Sea Border and Air Border.
For these reasons, the roadmap of ORIGINS will take note of all aspects linked to the different specific products, systems, procedures and protocols that need to be covered by standards so that to ensure that security is better coordinated by EU bodies than at national levels. As recommended by the Mandate, it will conduct an analysis of the current breeder document situation in Europe taking into account the legislative background and the drawing of a security standardisation map. For these reasons, ORIGINS will propose security measures in line with the security levels determined by public authorities and their underlying risk assessments, identifying security needs and secure interoperability schemes between the various nodes and centres for civil security in Europe dealing with law enforcement and crisis management.

The ORIGINS project has a clear European dimension. Indeed, with the standardisation of e-passports, passport breeder documents are obviously a domain that is not limited to a single country, but need to be treated at European level. The important role of e-passports for border security and the considerable potential impact and benefits of the ORIGINS project justify a financial support of the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme for this collaborative support initiative.
Also, the FP7 Security ‘Coordinating and Support Actions’ is the most suitable framework for the scope of this project. It provides the required public funding contribution centrally at the EU level, which ensures that all actors involved (industries, SMEs, academia, stakeholders, and experts of ethical, legal, societal issues) have the means to contribute.
Furthermore, the European project framework creates favourable conditions for the collaboration with other related projects, a high visibility for the project and facilitates liaison and exchange with breeder documents and e-passport stakeholder organisations.
Improving the mutual recognition of electronic ID has been considered as a key issue for Member States. Considerable efforts have been carried on in multiple projects to face the challenges of pan-European ID interoperability and to assess the feasibility of differing approaches. ENISA has been involved in various activities and assessed security risks of electronic authentication in cross-border solutions based on two different projects offering cross-border authentication: NETC@RDS (Health credentials) and STORK (government credentials). The PEPPOL project aims at strengthening ID to facilitate the relationships between citizens and government administrations, whilst the FIDELITY project aims at improving the security and usability of biometric travel documents and in the same time protecting privacy of travel document holders by a privacy-by-design approach.
Since ORIGINS will explore many areas of human identity and identification, the project will potentially benefit from those activities and vice-versa.

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The European Conference on Breeder Documents will be held in October 2016 (Date TO BE CONFIRMED) by the ORIGINS European Project. It will take (...)

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