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EPIC --- Privacy and Human Rights Report

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EPIC --- Privacy and Human Rights Report 2006

Title Page Previous Next Contents | Privacy Topics >Border Security Programs

Border Security Programs

In the past few years, countries have begun expanding their border security programs. Countries are increasingly requiring that visitors use electronic passports. The US required that, by October 2006, the 27 countries in the US Visa Waiver Program (which allows their citizens to enter the US without having to apply for a visa) were required to use electronic passports.[651] About 15 million people per year travel to the US through the Visa Waiver Program. Germany, the Netherlands, and UK require their citizens to carry biometric e-passports as a security measure; however the security of each country’s e-passport has been breached.[652]

Countries also are greatly increasing the amount of information gathered on their visitors. Australia,[653] Germany,[654] and the UK[655] are collecting a host of data, including iris scans, from travelers and the US is considering adding iris scans to its US-VISIT border security program, which currently requires visitors to submit all 10 fingerprints.[656] Malaysia and Singapore are also collecting biometric data from visitors.[657] The Philippines and the US are cooperating on a joint fingerprint database.[658] In January 2007, Home Affairs ministers of signatories to the Prum Treaty agreed to share access to each nation's fingerprint and motor vehicle databases.[659] Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Spain signed the treaty in 2005. Italy, Finland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, and Sweden and Romania issued formal notification of their wish to sign, as well.

[651] Those countries are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. US Department of State, Press Release, "Majority of Visa Waiver Program Countries Meet Electronic Passport Deadline,” October 26, 2006, available at <>.
[652] Will Sturgeon, "Biometric Passport Cracked and Cloned," CNet, August 4, 2006 <>; “Expert: German E-Passports Not Secure," Deutsche Welle, August 7, 2007 <,2144,2124298,00.html>; Steve Boggan, "Special Report on Identity Cards: Cracked It!,” Guardian, November 17, 2006 <,,1950226,00.html>; John Lettice, "Face And Fingerprints Swiped In Dutch Biometric Passport Crack," Register, January 30, 2006, <>.

[653] Darren Pauli, "Aussies to Stockpile Kiwi Biometrics in Central Database," Computerworld, July 25, 2007 <>.
[654] "Look Me in the Eye," Deutsche Welle, February 13, 2004 <,,1113690,00.html>.
[655] Jeremy Kirk, "Government Tests Biometrics at Border Control Points," IDG News Service, May 3, 2007 <>.
[656] Michael Arnone, "US-VISIT Chief Wants Tougher Border Security,", April 18, 2006 <>; see also EPIC’ US-VISIT Web page <> (documents obtained by EPIC under Freedom of Information Act show US government considered iris scans, voice recognition for border security).
[657] Vivian Yeo, "Singapore Unveils Biometric Passport," CNet, March 31, 2006 <>; "Singapore Advocates Using Biometrics in Border Control," People's Daily Online, March 26, 2007 <>.
[658] "Philippine, U.S. Police Cooperate in Fingerprint Database," People's Daily Online, June 7, 2006 <>.
[659] Germany Federal Minister of the Interior, Press Release, "Informal Meeting of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs: Home Affairs Ministers Back Initiative to Create a Pan-European Network of Police Databases for More Effective Crime Control," January 15, 2007, available at <>; Letter from the Presidency to the Council of the European Union, "Integration of the Prüm Treaty into the Union Legal Order," February 9, 2007, available at <>.

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