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Domestic Security: Digital Passport (March 18, 2004)
The 2004 CeBIT trade fair for the IT industry showcased a number of e-government projects on the city, regional [Land], and federal levels. In a speech delivered there, Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily stressed the importance of new information technologies for domestic security and the modernization of government administration. He announced that authorities would start including biometric data in passports and visas, and he indicated that digital passports were on the way. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States had asked the European states to issue passports with biometric data, and, as Schily noted, the threat of terrorism had not diminished since then. On March 11, 2004 – just a few days before the fair opened – a series of terrorist attacks were carried out in Madrid. The first generation of e-passports, which included a biometric passport photograph embedded in an integrated chip, were issued in November 2005. The second generation, which also included two fingerprints, came out in November 2007. This photograph shows Schily with a sample digital passport at the CeBIT fair, which was held in Hanover. Photo: Jochen Eckel.