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From: Stephen Hayes
To: All
Date: 2004-04-01 07:10:40
Subject: A Billion+ Biometric IDs

But just think how useful it will be toi future genealogists!

* Forwarded (from: WORLDTLK) by Stephen Hayes using timEd/2 1.10.y2k.
* Originally from Steve Asher (3:800/432) to All.
* Original dated: Wed Mar 31, 01:39


Files & Biometric Identifiers on More Than a Billion Passengers 
to be Computerised and Shared Globally by 2015

Civil rights groups warn of grave dangers in International biometric
passport system.

29th March 2004

Embargo: 22.00 hrs GMT, 29th March 2004

A wide range of privacy, human rights & civil liberties organisations
throughout the world have signed an open letter expressing grave
concerns over a global biometric identity system being established on
behalf of governments by the International Civil Aviation Organization

The letter, spearheaded by Privacy International and the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raises concerns about little-known plans
to imminently create international standards that will require the use
of biometrics and RFID (radio frequency) technology in all future
passports. The measures, being decided this week at a meeting of the
ICAO in Cairo, will result in a distributed international
identification database on all passport holders.

The open letter has been signed by, among others, the Statewatch, the
UK based Foundation for Information Policy research, The Association
for Progressive Communications and the US based Privacy Rights
Clearinghouse. The range of originating countries includes, among
others, Australia, Canada, Germany, Korea, and Swizterland.

The ICAO has agreed that the initial international biometric standard
for passports will be facial mapping. Adequate memory space in newly
issued passports will be reserved for additional biometrics such as
fingerprinting at the discretion of every government. The EU is
already calling for fingerprints to be included, along with an
associated European register of all biometrics. National authorities
will store and share these vast data reserves.

The measures, supported by the US and the EU, will ultimately create
an electronic ID system on hundreds of millions of travellers. Despite
serious implications for privacy and personal security, the process 
is occurring without public engagement or debate. Rather than allowing
this important issue to be decided by parliaments, governments have
delegated the setting of standards to the ICAO, a UN-level
organization that is responsible for the standardization of travel
documents, passenger data systems and air travel requirements.

The legislative drivers for the ICAO system are already in place. 
The USA-PATRIOT Act, passed by the U.S. Congress after the events of
September 2001 included the requirement that the President certify a
biometric technology standard for use in identifying aliens seeking
admission into the U.S., within two years. The schedule for its
implementation was accelerated by another piece of legislation, the
little known Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act 2002.
Part of this second law included seeking international co-operation
with this standard:

"By October 26, 2004, in order for a country to remain eligible for
participation in the visa waiver program its government must certify
that it has a program to issue to its nationals machine-readable
passports that are tamper-resistant and which incorporate biometric
and authentication identifiers that satisfy the standards of the
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)."

These laws gave momentum to the standards that were being considered
at the ICAO by requiring visa waiver countries (which include many 
EU countries, Australia, Brunei, Iceland, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand,
Norway, Singapore, and Slovenia) to implement biometrics into their
Machine-Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs), i.e. passports.

Based on projections from current passport and travel statistics,
biometric details of more than a billion people will be electronically
stored by 2015. Some of the countries sampled for this estimate are:

United States        90 million
United Kingdom       54 million
Japan                64 million
Canada               24 million
Australia            13 million
Russian Federation   50 million
Ireland              4 million
Taiwan               17 million
China                60 million

The Privacy International open letter warns:

"We are increasingly concerned that the biometric travel document
initiative is part and parcel of a larger surveillance infrastructure
monitoring the movement of individuals globally that includes
Passenger-Name Record transfers, API systems and the creation of an
intergovernmental network of interoperable electronic data systems to
facilitate access to each country's law enforcement and intelligence

Privacy International has warned of "unprecedented" security threats
that could arise from the plan because of potential access by
terrorists and organised crime. Furthermore, the biometric standard
being adopted is "fundamentally flawed" and will result in a
substantial number of passengers being falsely identified as potential
terrorists or wrongly accused of holding fraudulent passports.

Dr Gus Hosein, Senior Fellow with Privacy International, warned: "This
is a potentially perilous plan. The ICAO must go back to the drawing
board or hold itself responsible for creating the first truly global
biometric database".

"Governments may claim that they are under an international obligation
to create national databases of fingerprints and face scans but we
will soon see nations with appalling human rights records generating
massive databases, and then requiring our own fingerprints and face-
scans as we travel."

He continued: "In January 2004 when the U.S. began fingerprinting and
face-scanning foreign visitors and storing this data for over fifty
years under the US-VISIT program, many countries responded with alarm.
With the biometric passport, however, every country may have its own
surveillance system, accumulating fingerprints and face-scans and
keeping them for as long as they wish with no regard to privacy or
civil liberties."

Notes to editors:

The open letter is available at
and a background information package is available at

Contact Information:

Simon Davies, Director
Privacy International, +44 (0)7958 466 552 email simon{at}

Gus Hosein, Senior Fellow
Privacy International, +44 (0)20 7955 6403 email gus{at}

Passport statistics and projections have been derived from the following sources:

    * United States:
    * United Kingdom:
    * Japan:
    * Canada:
    * Australia:
    * Russian Federation:
    * Ireland:
    * Taiwan:
=U TF-8
    * China:
ua ry/c01020555.asp

Privacy International (PI) is a human
rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance by
governments and corporations. PI is based in London, and has an office
in Washington, D.C. Together with members in 40 countries, PI has
conducted campaigns throughout the world on issues ranging from
wiretapping and national security activities, to ID cards, video
surveillance, data matching, police information systems, and medical
privacy, and works with a wide range of parliamentary and inter-
governmental organisations such as the European Parliament, the House
of Lords and UNESCO.


Cheers, Steve...

 - Origin: Xaragmata / Adelaide SA telnet:// (3:800/432) 

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