Europe: Biometrics to be enlisted in attempt to cope with migrant crisis

European leaders try to slow migrants as thousands enter (Toronto Star)

The leaders decided that reception capacities should be boosted in Greece and along the Balkans migration route to shelter 100,000 more people as winter looms.

They also agreed to expand border operations and make full use of biometric data like fingerprints as they register and screen migrants, before deciding whether to grant them asylum or send them home.

Malaysia: UN Commision recommends biometrics for Burmese refugees

Introduce Biometric ICs To Regulate Refugee Situation In Malaysia, Suggests UNHCR (Malaysian Digest)

In the face of the recent influx of ethnic Rohingyas fleeing from persecution in Myanmar, Malaysia finds itself caught between encountering a humanitarian crisis and having to deal with the security and social problems that are bound to arise when asylum-seekers are allowed to swarm into the nation.

UNHCR is the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

There’s a lot of information on this tragic situation at the link.

SIBA head testifies before congressional committee on border biometrics

Senate Homeland Security Committee calls SIBA’s Kephart to testify (Secure
Identity & Biometrics Association (SIBA))

Testimony before the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee

Tracking the arrival and departure of foreign visitors to the United States is an essential part of immigration control, law enforcement and national security. The need for arrival controls is obvious, but recording departures is also important; without it, there is no way to know definitively whether travelers have left when they were supposed to. Biometric entry/exit and transfer solutions are proven in their feasibility, low cost, added security value, increased efficiencies, travel convenience, and accuracy. Good products are available off the shelf. They are flexible and built, and can be customized, for many environments. The biometric, secure document and identity management industry is well-versed in integration with back-end data systems while building in flexibility for the future. Biometric solutions such as facial recognition, fingerprints and iris scans assure identity when coupled with biographic information found in travel documents. Using only biographic information, however, such as names or passport numbers, provides no assurance that the person departing is the one whose original arrival was recorded.

The quote above is taken from the pdf linked to the article at top. The 29-page document is an excellent resource for those interested in the topic.

UAE building out border biometrics

UAE will launch full biometric scanning systems at borders soon (Tnooz)

The United Arab Emirates is set to become one of the most technically advanced countries when it comes to border control. The Emirates will deploy a series of biometric e-gates at all entry points while also working to gather more biometric data to add to the fingerprints currently tracked in its biometric database.

The UAE is already one of the most eager adopters of border biometrics. That doesn’t look to be changing any time soon.

Technology is neutral

WikiLeaks Releases Alleged CIA Documents Detailing Travel Tips For Undercover Agents (IBT)

“The two classified documents … detail border-crossing and visa regulations, the scope and content of electronic systems, border guard protocols and procedures for secondary screenings,” WikiLeaks said, in the statement. “The documents show that the CIA has developed an extreme concern over how biometric databases will put CIA clandestine operations at risk.”

In the leaked documents, the CIA also expressed concerns over the impact the implementation of a biometric security system in the Schengen Area would have on its undercover operatives traveling under false identities, adding that it would “increase the identity threat level for all US travelers.” The Schengen Area comprises of a bloc of 22 European nations that have relaxed passport and border controls at their common borders.

Biometrics can be used to suss out identity fraud among organized criminals. Biometrics also appear to be greatly complicating the activities of intelligence agencies to move assets from country to country.

The technology doesn’t care.

Smartgates and the tightening of UK & Australia borders

AUSTRALIA: ‘Foreign fighter’ laws leave door open on biometric data collection (Computerworld)

The government’s second tranche of national security legislation, the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014, includes measures that potentially allow a significant increase in the types of biometric data collected at Australian airports.

Provisions in the bill also extend to Australian travellers data collection practices that have previously been confined to non-citizens.



UK: New biometric border controls at Stansted Airport at heart of terrorism fight (Herts and Essex Observer)

“We are using resources and intelligence to ensure the border is as strong as we can make it.”

He said the Government was also committed to tackling the problem of those travelling from the UK to the Middle East to join the IS jihadists and a new counter-terrorism Bill was set to include measure to temporarily remove the passports of those suspected of being radicalised and ready to fight abroad.

Big news from Australia

Everyone entering Australia to have biometric data scanned (Australia Forum)

A $700 million update to Australia’s border management system will mean that everyone entering the country will have their data scanned and matched against a biometrics database.

Australia is well suited to give this a good chance of working. You can’t drive there, or walk there, and their stringent agricultural controls and efforts to keep rabies out means that they’re already used to being pretty careful at points of entry.

New Canadian biometrics requirement for certain visa types begins next Wednesday

Canada introduces new biometric visa requirements (Dhaka Tribune)

When a traveller arrives in Canada at a port of entry, a Canadian border services officer will use all available sources of information to confirm that person’s identity.

This new requirement will not only help protect the safety and security of Canadians while helping facilitate legitimate travel, it will also protect prospective visitors by making it more difficult for others to forge, steal or use an applicant’s identity to gain access to Canada, it said.

Malaysia and biometric ID for foreigners

Biometric identity cards for foreigners studying in Malaysia? (The Star)

“Several countries, namely Saudi Arab, Yemen and several Middle East countries have indicated interest in adopting such a card for their students students here,” he added.

Based on ministry’s records, there were some 80,000 international students in the country last year. The aim is to attract 200,000 foreign students by 2020.

In a related issue, Ahmad Zahid said that a pilot project is currently underway to implement the biometric identity card for the 2.116mil foreign workers in the country by the end of next year.

Know your fingerprint terminology

Handy-dandy fingerprint terminology reference…
The definitions are longer and more detailed at the link.

What Is a Patent Fingerprint? (AZCentral)

If you’re in the business of crime scene investigation or forensic lab analysis, you have to know your fingerprint terminology. Fingerprints are complex natural patterns, and fingerprint professionals use a sophisticated jargon to describe their appearance.

Patent Fingerprint – visible image of a person’s fingertip left on a surface as a result of residue on the finger.

Plastic Fingerprint – impression left in a pliable substance, such as clay, wax or wet paint.

Latent Fingerprint – print left on a surface as the result of natural oils on the skin

Exemplar Fingerprint – deliberate print specifically made as part of a record

US & EU to help Nigeria with fingerprint biometrics in counter-terrorism effort

Insecurity: US, EU renew support for Nigeria (The Nation)

“We have figure prints of possible over 10 million travellers at the same time in a system. We are expanding in Nigeria, Chad, Burkina Faso and we are doing a major upgrade in Ghana. We are possessing about 10 thousand finger prints per week in West Africa.”

When reporters sought to know what the US stood to gain in the partnership, Moro responded that the assistance was at no cost to the country but an extension of a hand of fellowship from a caring ally.

Other members of the delegation are: Mr. Dwight Brown, Miss Theresa Keens, Mr. David Svendsen, Mary Johnson, Thaddaeus Hoyt and Diana Kohn, who are programmes personnel at the US Embassy.

The European Union also renewed its continued support to the Federal Government “until terrorism is defeated”. Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the EU to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Dr David MacRae, dropped the hint at a media luncheon hosted by the commission in Abuja.

This news article from yesterday provides important context.

Nigeria: Boko Haram Threat Chokes Trade With Cameroon (All Africa)

Cameroon has stepped up security over the Boko Haram (BH) threat.

In November 2011, Nigeria shut its border with Cameroon, prompting Yaoundé to bolster security in the largely Muslim Far North Region, close dozens of Koranic schools and hand over suspected BH members to Nigeria, which reopened the border in 2012.

Despite the intensified security, suspected BH militants on 19 February abducted seven French tourists, including four children, from a national park in the Far North Region, freeing them two months later.

Cross-border trade sustains the local economy in the Far North Region which sells onions, rice, maize, livestock and other agricultural goods to Nigeria, and imports sugar, cement, textile and electronics.

“Tight border security and checks are making business impossible for some of us. This was worsened by the kidnapping of [the French] tourists. Today all the goods must be checked before entry, and taxes are so high,” said Doudou Yaouba, a trader in Maroua, the regional capital.

This last, detailed, article illuminates major concerns within ECOWAS and among other interested parties. Biometrics can be a leap-frogging technology for providing domestic services, as in India’s UID project. They can also be a leap-frogging technology for bringing less rigorous international security protocols into a standard operating environment where highly sophisticated capabilities can be brought to bear.

Britain’s immigration system since 2000

Immigration issues have been hot topics in both the US and the UK.

Visa consultancy WorkPermit.com provides a short recap of the history of the United Kingdom’s border management this century.

Former UK immigration boss says system has been out of control since 2000

It’s a pretty grim assessment. Turning the situation around will require talented managers operating within a more flexible political environment applying the best technology to the task. Easy for me to say. The technology part, while difficult, is by far the most easily met of those three preconditions for success.

The immigration debate: Entry & exit tracking

The topics we hit on in Who’s in my country? That’s a tough one. are addressed in more depth and from a United States perspective below.

I found the analogy in the brief excerpt below particularly apt.

Immigration reform: What to do about those who arrive legally but never leave? (Alaska Dispatch)

Build a statistical measure of the border’s security? Too complicated. Determine “operational control” over certain amounts of the American southern border? Too undefined. Establish certain levels of infrastructure and security personnel? Too expensive.

That’s part of the over-arching problem: with broad dysfunction in many parts of the immigration and border security system, it has been difficult to marshal the political will and financial resources to fix any one part without a broad overhaul.

“You have an automobile that has no tires, no wheels, no doors, no engine, and then, alright, great, you put two brand new tires on it [and ask] ‘Why doesn’t it work?’” says Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) of Florida, a key House immigration reform negotiator.

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