Tuesday, 11 May 2004

ICAO ignores critics, keeps moving toward biometric/RFID passport standard

The Technical Advisory Group on Machine-Readable Travel Documents (TAG-MRTD) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will meet again next week at ICAO headquarters in Montréal, P.Q., Canada.

“Further work on specifications for biometric-enabled passports and other travel documents will be the focus of the meeting,” according to the ICAO home page.

More than 40 privacy and civil liberties organizations from around the world sent a letter to ICAO during ICAO’s previous round of meeting in Cairo in March-April 2004, calling on ICAO to:

  • Follow through on earlier promises to review privacy implications of biometrics and trans-border personal information transfers;
  • Release clear and binding privacy requirements that will reduce the risks of illegal collection, use, retention, and transfers of this information;
  • Uphold national data protection laws or cultural practices, as previously promised by the ICAO;
  • Prevent, by design or biometric selection, the development of biometric databases;
  • Refrain from adopting RFID or biometric standards until their privacy and surveillance implications — and the possibility of alternatives with less potential for privacy invasion or other abuse by surveillance agencies — can be more fully evaluated.

There’s no evidence in the report on the previous meeting (TAG-MRTD14), the working papers for next week’s meeting (TAG-MRTD15), or the technical reports which “are the precursor to new specifications which will eventually be included”, that any of the issues raised in the joint NGO letter have ever been considered by ICAO or placed on its agenda, much less acted on or incorporated into the standards under development. And so far as I can tell, none of the participants in the ICAO meetings to date have represented privacy or civil liberties NGO’s, and none of the government delegates have been from national data protection authorities.

Link | Posted by Edward on Tuesday, 11 May 2004, 10:34 (10:34 AM)
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