India: Consulates in the US, UK and Pakistan to Begin Collecting Biometric Data for Visas

India to collect biometric data of all foreign visitors (Live Mint – WSJ)

The move comes in the wake of Indian investigators struggling to find out whether Syed Zabiuddin Ansari, alias Abu Jundal, an Indian arrested in connection with the November 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, had visited India on Pakistani passports after the attack. Jundal holds an Indian passport and two Pakistani passports.

Summit of Central Africa leaders mulls biometric passports

Transitioning to biometric passports is on the agenda of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC) meetings being held this month in Brazzaville.

UPDATE: Link to Afrique Jet was missing before.

Summit of Central Africa leaders (Afrique Jet)

CEMAC

Also on the agenda is CEMAC biometric passport for all member countries.

‘The secure biometric passport will be progressively established and will coexist with the former passports so that there is no break,’ Mr Ntsimi added.

Swiss retain visa-free travel to the US

Via SwissInfo.ch

Swiss nationals will continue to benefit from visa-free entry to the United States for stays of up to 90 days after the two countries initialled an agreement on the issue on Wednesday.

The US had posed two conditions to countries wishing to remain in the visa-waiver programme. On the one hand, it wanted an exchange of finger prints and DNA data in order to prevent and combat serious crime (PCSC); on the other, it wanted an exchange of data on known or suspected terrorists.

The Future: An Early Arrival at Love Field?

More and more people fly and the joy the experience brings has been at a continuous ebb since well before 9-11. We all know it is a drudge, and many of us remember it being different.

So, it’s not hard to see why brainstorming and daydreaming the Future of Air Travel™ is something of a cottage industry.

For examples, see:
Aviation Industry Researchers Predict Major Airport Overhauls Over the Next 15 Years,
Biometrics Will Enable the Takeoffs of Tomorrow, or
IATA Floats Airport Security Revamp

But most of us won’t need examples. We’ve had plenty of time to write all three of the above posts and the articles they reference while waiting our turn behind the travelers who arrived before us at the security checks to participate in the security ritual.

As Charles Dudley Warner* once said, “Everybody talks about how lame air travel has become, but nobody does anything about it.”

Until now…

‘Checkpoint of the future’ takes shape at Texas airport (USA Today)

At a terminal being renovated here at Love Field, contractors are installing 500 high-definition security cameras sharp enough to read an auto license plate or a logo on a shirt.

The cameras, capable of tracking passengers from the parking garage to gates to the tarmac, are a key first step in creating what the airline industry would like to see at airports worldwide: a security apparatus that would scrutinize passengers more thoroughly, but less intrusively, and in faster fashion than now.

According to this article, it’s actually being built, now, at Love Field, the spiritual and corporate home of Southwest Airlines.

This comes not a moment too soon. Another tidbit of the article sheds light on how the status quo just can’t hold:

The Federal Aviation Administration projects the number of passengers flying inside the USA will nearly double in the next 20 years, to 1.2 billion. Security has slowed since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Before then, about 350 people passed through checkpoints each hour, the IATA says. A November survey at 142 airports found processing times fell to 149 an hour, with the worst at 60, Dunlap says.

The math buried in this paragraph just doesn’t work out. The number of air passengers simply can’t double in the next twenty years if the current trend in security throughput continues.

Either:
1. Due to a lack of security capacity, passengers will be unable to get to their planes in time (or they will have to arrive at the airport so early that many will opt to drive to their destination), or
2. Expanding the current security apparatus to handle twice the volume will drive up the cost of air travel affecting demand.

Incremental change will no longer do. Each additional security hurdle added in response to a novel security threat brings the entire system one step closer to collapse. The air travel industry’s future depends not upon a rethink (Future of Air Travel™) but on a radical reinvention and implementation of the security apparatus.

Thankfully, unlike the weather, someone’s finally doing something about it. Biometrics can, and will, help.

 *Not Mark Twain

Liberia Unveils its New Passport in Washington, DC

Foreign Ministry Launches Diaspora Biometric ECOWAS Passport in the US (Heritage)

The official launching of the Liberia ECOWAS Biometric Passport has taken place in the United States capital, Washington DC for Liberians living in the Diaspora.

The colorful ceremony was witnessed by high-profile Liberian government officials including veteran Liberian diplomats, citizens from across the Diaspora and foreign friends.

The Economic Community Of West African States, ECOWAS (echo-wass) is a regional group of fifteen countries, founded in 1975. Its mission is to promote economic integration in “all fields of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial questions, social and cultural matters …..”

Around 10 Taiwanese Passports Forged Annually

Foreign ministry calls attention to forged Taiwanese passports (Taiwan News)

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs drew attention Thursday to recent cases of foreign nationals attempting to enter Europe on forged Taiwanese passports. Most of the cases involved authentic Taiwanese biometric passports that had either the photograph or the chip containing personal information replaced, said James Lee, director-general of the ministry’s Department of European Affairs.

In the current state of affairs of biometric passports, everything is riding on the integrity of the chip.

Korea-US Travel Agreement

US and Korea to announce reciprocal trusted traveler agreement

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar and Republic of Korea Minster of Justice Jae-Jin Kwon will jointly announce a reciprocal agreement for each nation’s trusted traveler programs – the U.S. Global Entry and Korea Smart Entry Service – Tuesday, June 12 at Washington Dulles International Airport.

h/t @m2sys

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.

Biometrics: More Effective than Whipping?

In its efforts toward more effective border control, Malaysia may depend more on biometrics and less on corporal punishment.

Govt mulls abolishing whipping for illegal foreign workers (Borneo Post)

Mohamed Nazri, who is the minister in charge of parliament and law, said since whipping was introduced for illegal foreign workers, the problem of illegals had not lessened but became worse.

“Therefore, a new penalty such as imposing a big fine could perhaps replace whipping.” He said new technology such as the biometric system could be an effective measure to control the entry of illegal foreign workers into the country. Asked whether Malaysia planned to abolish whipping for other offences, the minister said it was more suitable for serious offences like rape.

In other Malaysia news…

Malaysia to scrap disembarkation card for foreigners (Asia One)

UK Border Management: Revolution on the Horizon

This is not the most convenient time for Britain to be undergoing a complete rethink about how it manages its border — the best time is always before a crisis — but the UK may no longer have the luxury of choosing the timing of a significant revamp.

UK Border watchdog attacks airport gridlock (Financial TImes – Reg. Req.)

Bad management of diminishing numbers of staff and failure to make the most of electronic scanning gates are behind the immigration gridlock at airports, says a report by the border watchdog.

John Vine, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, hit at the lack of any “cohesive” management plan at Heathrow, at a time when the Home Office faces mounting pressure to end long queues at the UK’s largest airport as well as Stansted and the Eurostar before this summer’s Olympic Games.

See also:
UK Border Scandal Update: Independent Inspector’s Report Published
UK: Airlines Warn Government of Potential Gridlock this Weekend
Does £9m Really Buy 60 Immigration Agents?
UK Struggling with Both Halves of International Traveler ID