Friday, 29 October 2004

EU follows USA on surveillance of travellers

In a “race to the bottom” on protection of the right to travel and of travellers’ privacy, the European Union is following the lead of the USA in mandating the construction — in part through the use and conversion of existing travel industry systems — of a comprehensive infrastructure of surveillance of travellers.

The recent adoption of these measures compelling collection and provision to governments of Advanced Passenger Information (API) data, and inclusion of digitized fingerprints and other biometric data on passports and in passport databases, fulfill the stated Strategic Goal of the USA Department of State for fiscal year 2005:

  • “Opinions by the public and political leadership in Europe and Eurasia soften on USG [U.S. Government] use of PNR.”

  • “Ensure access to PNR data for border and passenger screening on a global basis.”

Statewatch has details on the background to the directive that went into effect 5 September 2004, requiring airlines operating international flights arriving in EU member countries to collect specified Advance Passenger Information (API) data — a more narrowly and precisely defined data set than complete Passenger Name Records (PNRs), although API data typically included some data that would not otherwise be included in PNRs — and provide it to the government of the destination country before the flight arrives.

And this week the EU Council of Ministers voted to a approve a proposal (which will now be re-submitted to the European Parliament for its “consultation” with the Council) to require a digitized fingerprint image on all new EU passports and in a central passport database. Statewatch has more details on the background to the current Council proposal.

The Council proposal would copy current USA law in requiring that the biometrics be encoded on the passport in a format consistent with ICAO Document 9303. If, as is expected, ICAO formalizes its blueprint for biometric/RFID passports as an amendment to Document 9303, this will mean that all EU passports will be required, like future USA passports , to include a secretly and remotely readable unencrypted RFID chip.

Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 29 October 2004, 12:22 (12:22 PM)
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