PIV specs come down from NIST

Card readers finalized, biometrics up for comment

The National Institute for Standards and Technology released the final version of interoperability requirements for Personal Identity Verification card readers. NIST also revised the technical specifications for biometric data to be used on PIV cards.

NIST Special Publication 800-96, PIV Card Reader Interoperability Guidelines, sets out "requirements that facilitate interoperability between any card and any reader." Agencies are expected to begin issuing cards next month.

Although Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 requires issuance of the cards, it does not specifically address how they'll be used. But the intent of the mandate is that a card issued by any agency could be used by any other agency for physical and logical access, requiring interoperability standards for readers.

Requirements for contact and contactless readers are similar, and for each type of reader they are identical for physical and logical access. The technical specifications are based on standards from the International Standards Organization. The interface for both contact and contactless readers must conform to the Personal Computer/Smart Card format. The contactless readers, which use radio frequency to read the card's smart chip, will not be able to read a PIV card more than 10 centimeters, or about 4 inches, from the reader.

NIST also released a fresh draft of SP 800-76-1, titled Biometric Data Specification for Personal Identity Verification, for public comment. SP 800-76 sets out specifications for the biometric components of Federal Information Processing Standard 201, the overarching standard for PIV cards.

'It enumerates procedures and formats for fingerprints and facial images by restricting values and practices included generically in published biometric standards," NIST said in the draft. Significant changes include the addition of information from NIST minutia exchange tests completed in March. It also clarifies requirements for acquiring fingerprint impressions.

Submit comments by the close of business Oct. 5 to comments@nist.gov, with "comments on public draft SP 800-76-1" in the subject line.

About the Author

William Jackson is freelance writer and the author of the CyberEye blog.

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