Australia to try out cloud passports

CANBERRA (TIP): Australia is looking at a trial of an innovation that would allow its citizens to travel overseas without a physical passport, foreign minister Julie Bishop said on Oct 29.

Revealing the idea of a “cloud passport”, the foreign minister said it came about after lengthy discussion with some Australia’s best innovators.

Earlier this year, the department of foreign affair and trade (DFAT) urged its staff in capital Canberra and around the world to put out ideas about how to modernise the portfolio in a best possible way.

Staff submitted and voted on up to 392 pitches, in what was called the “DFAT ideas challenge” with the top 10 being presented to a panel of judges which included the foreign minister.

Bishop said the cloud passport was the winning idea, with the panel of judges thinking that “it will go global”.

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Last year, 38,718 Australian passports were reported to have been stolen or be missing, up from 38,689 the previous year. Under a cloud-based system, a traveller’s biometrics data and identity would be stored digitally, allowing people to freely travel without the risk of a passport getting lost or being stolen while abroad.

Bishop said a number of security requirements would have to be adhered to in order to safely store citizens’ personal data in a cloud, but a team – also involving representatives from New Zealand – was currently discussing a multinational trial of the cloud passports.

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