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E-Passports - well, not really...

I was amused to hear over the weekend that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has started the second round of tests on its electronic passport program.

This latest round of tests will involve frequent travellers passing through San Francisco International Airport, as well as Changhi in Singapore and Sydney International, waving a smart card at the terminal

The cards contain an electronic image of the holder, biographic data and details of distinguishing marks.

No biometrics, however.

Which makes the testing program a bit of a joke in my eyes. I mean, what's the point in having an electronic version of the card'n'paper passport if you don't take advantage of the benefits of the new medium.

Visitors to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport will probably have seen the Privium retinal card system in use over the last few years.

The system is a doddle to use. I've watched (as I've waited in the passport queue) as a Dutch guy breezes past the queue, pops his card in the reader slot and has their retina scanned. The whole process takes a few seconds and - bingo! - they're on their way.

It's almost worth the 99 euros membership each year.

Someone really ought to tell the DHS in the US what's happening with the Privium scheme in Amsterdam...