By Amanda Warren
Travel becomes truly ominous…
In a trend that isn’t wholly surprising, EU Observer reports:
US citizens and other non-EU nationals who enter Europe will be asked to have their faces image-captured and fingerprints scanned upon arrival at a half-dozen major airports. [emphasis added]
This “biometric dragnet” is the pilot test for the EU’s new “smart borders” packages. The test portion will run March – September 2015, for starters. The commission originally proposed this package in 2013 but pulled it and began revising. While there is some opposition, the experiment is shortly underway.
The captures include fingerprint scans, iris scans and facial recognition scans for all forms of European travel – road, train, sea and air.
Of course, what’s usual for such programs – travelers can refuse…for now. But officials are letting travelers know through the media that it will become mandatory in time.
Arlanda (Sweden), Charles de Gaulle (France), Frankfurt (Germany), Lisbon (Portugal), Madrid (Spain), and Schiphol (Netherlands) are the test airports. The multi-million euro project is still in the draft stages but nevertheless, is set to go…now. The document notes:
Should traveller participation be lower than expected, there would be a high risk that the results of the tests would be biased or would not reflect reality.
A special token is expected for frequent travelers to complete journeys without the inconvenience of the future traveler to Europe…
Arlanda, Charles de Gaulle, and Madrid airports will capture facial recognition images from passengers stepping off flights. Lisbon is “tickled” – yes, tickled – to capture iris pattern scans, live at the same time as facial captures. Moving trains from Paris (Gare du Nord) and Lasi (Romania) will house border guards who will take fingerprint scans. Travelers at Lasi will be compelled for their facial images.
Again, this practice will include other modes of travel where in some areas, iris scans will be taken. For instance, iris scans will be taken from drivers (willing at first) on roads leading into border towns Udvar in Hungary and Sculeni in Romania. The article notes that “drivers should also expect live face scans in Sculeni.”
Roads leading into Kipoi Evrou in Greece and Vaalimaa in Finland will compel drivers for fingerprints. “The traveller[sic] will walk up to the border guard or be one of the first persons to be called by the border guard,” the document notes. Certain cars and buses will be “pulled aside” in a waiting area for the duration of the experiment.
Lastly, Helsinki (Finland), Port of Piraeus (Greece), Gerbourg (France), and Genova (Italy) are the seaports and ship areas participating in the data collection.
There is, of course, the assurance that all data will be depersonalised, kept local and destroyed afterward with only a limited retention period. The only data “risk” in their consideration being that certain member states won’t comply with data protection guidelines. Notably, eu-LISA is the EU agency that will manage this large-scale undertaking with systems that in current use by EU border guards and law enforcement. Reports come out July 15th and November.
The “full monty” biometric trend is likely to burgeon at U.S. airports soon, if not already – as this is a major global goal. The events of September 11 were used to justify major spending for biometric measures worldwide. Or rather, the extra push for projects that were already underway.
From EU Observer:
The package includes the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the Registered Travellers Programme (RTP).
Both rely on the collection, storage, and processing of biometric data to enhance border control checks on any non-EU national entering the EU.
EES is meant to identify and prevent people from overstaying their visas.
A witness reported to us of a promotional flight video depicting biometric scanners at Atlanta, GA International Airport. Sure enough, all the equipment was set up at the airport in the summer of 2012, but was not yet in use. Feel free to comment if you know where the airport stands currently on biometric use.
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