Canada announces biometric requirement for visa holders

Biometric data collection evolves and expands in Canada (CBC)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada told CBC News that digital photos and fingerprints are “the only biometrics data applicants will have to provide” under the government’s plan for expanded collection of data. Visitors will have to pay $85 to cover the cost of data collection.

Travelers who don’t need a visa to travel to Canada are, apparently, unaffected.

Forecast: North American market

New Report Suggests North America as Growth Leader in Biometric Technology Market (M2SYS)

The report suggests that, “the global biometric technology, types, and applications market is expected to reach $13.89 billion by 2017 at an estimated CAGR of 18.7%,” and that, “North America is a market leader in the biometric technology market.”

What’s interesting about the prediction that North America is positioned as a market leader in biometric technology is that it is arguably the region with the most opposition and resistance to it.

Is that irony, or has the American public’s opposition to biometrics been overstated?

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.

Canada: Details on new biometric policies for certain visas

Canada to begin collecting biometric data from certain foreign nationals (International Law Office)

From 2013 temporary resident visa, study permit and work permit applicants from certain visa-required countries and territories seeking to enter Canada will be required to have their biometric information (ie, fingerprints and photograph) collected overseas before arriving in Canada. Canadian citizens and permanent residents will not be subject to the proposed regulations.

Fingerprints collected abroad will be sent to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for storage and will be checked against the fingerprint records of refugee claimants, previous deportees, persons with Canadian criminal records and previous temporary resident applicants before a visa decision is made. The biometric identity established abroad will then be checked by a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer at a Canadian port of entry when the temporary resident applies for admission to Canada.

Much more: which countries; what types of visa; and implementation dates at the link.

Canada military to spread biometric knowledge domestically

Canadian Forces Expands Its Biometric Capabilities But Remains Silent On The Details (Ottawa Citizen)

…[I]n an April 2010 directive issued by then Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, the military was ordered to expand such capabilities beyond those being detained in Afghanistan.

The directive called on Canadian Forces planners to “shape” research conducted by the DND’s science organization, Defence Research and Development Canada, so they could identify new future technologies that could improve the collection of biometric data.

The directive was aimed at dealing with the Afghanistan mission. But it didn’t explain whether the call to expand biometric capabilities to support other government departments, as well as the need to conduct new research, was for future international missions, support for domestic operations or a combination of both.

Is the Five Country Conference hitting its stride on ID?

The US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand (Five Country Conference) share information, including biometrics, on foreign visitors. Reading between the lines of the article linked below, they appear to hitting their stride.

Biometrics has “just completely changed the way we do business,” DHS director of US-VISIT. (Fierce Homeland Security)

See also:
Privacy Impact Assessment for the US-VISIT Five Country Joint Enrollment and Information-Sharing Project (2009 pdf at DHS.gov)

Canada and the US to require better ID from border crossers

Border law will demand travel docs from Canadians: Documents (Embassy)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada plans to introduce new legal rules that would force Canadians and Americans to present authorized travel documents such as passports when entering Canada, according to departmental notes.

Government documents obtained by Embassy under access to information legislation show the move, part of the perimeter security plan between Canada and the United States, will bring Canadian and American law closer.

Under the US Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, Canadians and others have had to pack official travel documents like passports since 2007 when they fly to the US, and since 2009 when driving or sailing there.

Kenya: Government signs contract for Canadian BVR’s

Canadian firm to supply Kenya with voting kits (Xinhua)

The Kenyan government has finally signed a contract with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), for the supply of 15,000 Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits to enable the East African nation hold credible polls in 2013.

A statement from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said on Tuesday the contract was inked on Monday evening in Nairobi by Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua, CCC’s Director David Olsen and IEBC’s Chief Executive Officer James Oswago.

“The Canadian agency gave a written undertaking on the integrity and commercial standing of the firm,” IEBC said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Click here for the whole strange saga of the Kenya biometric voter register tender.

Kenya Inks Canadian Loan for Biometric Kits

Kenya: Govt Signs Deal With Canada for BVR Kits (All Africa)

The government yesterday signed a loan agreement with its Canadian counterpart for the Biometric Voter Registration kits. Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa confirmed that the Cabinet sub-committee yesterday met the Canadians to sign the memorandum of understanding.

The committee has been negotiating with the Canadians over the Sh4.6 billion deal.

The loan carries no interest but the Canadians get to pick the biometric voter registration (BVR) kit vendor.

Kenya Biometric Election Registration Update

The Kenya biometric voter initiative is still lurching along…

The big update is that there will be an update.

Kenya: State to Give Voter Kit Update, Says Eugene (The Star – Nairobi via All Africa)

Justice minister Eugene Wamalwa said the update will be made after a stakeholders’ meeting to be held before the end of this week.

He said the tender was expected to be complete “soon as possible” to enable the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission start voter registration in readiness for the next year’s general election. This statement is expected before Friday.

“I can comment about which company will be given the award since its the Canadian who will determine the winner of the tender,” said Wamalwa. Canadian firm, Code Inc, which was involved in the pilot BVR project of 18 constituencies in Kenya before the 2010 referendum is also among those said to be considered for the tender.

I think he means he “can’t comment.” It’s the only way the rest of the sentence makes sense.

See also: Strange Things Afoot in Kenya Biometric Voter Registration Procurement, which ends with this summary chronology…

1. IEBC solicits proposals

2. IEBC narrows list to four providers

3. For whatever reason, IEBC can’t choose among them.

4. IEBC cancels the project foreclosing any recourse to the bidders who followed the IEBC’s instructions.

5. Hilary Clinton offers Kenya free biometric registration kits.

6. IEBC rejects the offer citing (unstated) political implications that would have arisen from such a donation, and a lack of time to complete the process.

7. IEBC makes a request of the Cabinet to acquire biometric registration kits through a government to government arrangement (Ghana, perhaps. UPDATE: It turns out to be Canada).

8. Laws will be changed to ensure that there’s enough time.

9. Vendors scratch heads.

10. Still, nobody is sure where the kits will come from.

Since then, Kenya has received a KES 5.4B interest free loan from Canadian government.

4,600,000,000.00 KES
=
54,534,677.93 USD
1 KES = 0.0118554 USD
1 USD = 84.3500 KES

The government of Kenya has outsourced all decision making about the procurement to the Canadians, the political implications in point 6 above apparently mitigated.

Canada, US Work Well Together on Border Issues

Canada-U.S. deal aims to smooth flow of refugees (Vancouver Sun)

the United States plan to join forces in order to better deal with “irregular flows” of refugees that turn up in North America or migrate within the continent, newly declassified documents show.

By 2014, the two countries will also begin routinely sharing biometric information about travellers, such as fingerprints.

And Canada is laying the groundwork for legislative and regulatory changes that will require all travellers – including Canadian and U.S. citizens – to present a secure document such as a passport or enhanced driver’s licence when entering Canada. Such a document is already required to enter the U.S.

A border isn’t really a big deal if those on both sides of it have the same rules about who can go in and out of the country.

The thing is, while sharing the world’s longest international border and the world’s largest trading relationship [PDF], Canada and the United States haven’t harmonized their immigration and visa rules — and they don’t wish to.

That’s all well within the scope of each sovereign country’s citizens to determine but it also implies that a lot of effort is required of both sides to make sure things operate smoothly. Biometric ID management technology can help.

A Hundred Pounds of Cocaine Seized Despite Several Security Breaches

Convicted drug smuggler breached security 7 times (Richmond Review)

Ironically, his unauthorized access to the customs hall was recorded by a new technology introduced the same year Von Holtum was caught, and designed to sound alarm bells.

Billed in January of 2007 by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority as “the world’s first dual biometric airport identification program for non-passengers acccessing restricted areas of the airport,” the RAIC (Restricted Area Identity Card) program was designed to detect and record the comings and goings of airport personnel, including whenever they enter restricted zones.

Security systems can be complex, especially in places like airports. For them to work, they have to bee well planned and someone has to be paying attention to them. In this case, it looks like there wasn’t a mechanism in place to bring several instances of odd behavior to the attention of officials.

Security technology, however awesome, can’t manage an organization. People have to do that.

On the other hand, security is usually redundant and provided in layers. The hundred-or-so pounds of cocaine, after all, was seized.

Canada Moving Toward Biometric Visitor Visas

Appeal mechanism needed for biometric visa plan due to imperfect system: report (Winnipeg Free Press)

Saying no biometrics system is perfect, an internal report urges the federal government to create an avenue of appeal for visa applicants who are rejected because of a false fingerprint match. The Conservative government is moving toward using biometrics — such as fingerprints, iris scans and other unique identifiers — to vet all foreigners entering the country.

As a first step, it soon plans to require applicants for a visitor visa, study permit or work permit to submit 10 electronic fingerprints and a photo before they arrive in Canada. The prints will be searched against RCMP databanks. Upon arrival the Canada Border Services Agency will use the data to verify that the visa holder is the same person as the applicant.

The big news is that Canada is going biometric with its travel visas.

The author’s discussion of appeals and privacy, however, seems a bit overwrought.

Any ID management system, whether it has to do with biometrics or not, must include provisions for sussing out mistakes (appeals) and maintaining the security (privacy) of information.

Biometric systems aren’t robots about to take over the Canada Border Services Agency, they’re just another tool for them to use and adding a fingerprint to the visa system will, in all likelihood, reduce the number of mistaken identifications and streamline the existing appeals process.

The article continues…

It [the report] says that in addition to false matches, privacy concerns associated with the use of biometric technologies can also include unauthorized use of the information, discrimination through profiling or surveillance, and retention of the data beyond the length of time needed.

To preserve the privacy rights of applicants, the report also recommends:
— those applying for visas be told what information will be collected and how it will be used;
— there be standards as to how long the fingerprints, photos and biographical details are kept and when they should be destroyed;
— memoranda between Citizenship and Immigration and the RCMP and border services agency be reviewed to determine what additional provisions for privacy and security may be needed.

It’s not entirely clear that “transparency” rather than “privacy” isn’t the proper prism for examining the issues surrounding the information provided by visa applicants.

It’s really nice of Canada to be considerate of the sensitivities of visa applicants, to deal with them in a transparent manner, and take thorough decisions regarding data retention, but if someone wants to visit a country that requires them to procure a visa, privacy (ed. between the applicant and the visa issuing country) doesn’t really enter into it. They either supply the required information or they don’t and those issues come up with or without biometrics.

Translate »