back to article US and allies lay global foundation for biometric border checks

The UK has proposed a transatlantic arrangement for sharing biometric data about travellers as US coalition countries in the "war on terror" push for a global system to control migration. The initiative officially lays the first brick in a concerted effort to establish a common border. Launching the UK's borders and …


This topic is closed for new posts.

What about asking parliament first ?

It is significant that this announcement is made in Washington - not Parliament where it should have been made.

John Reid presumably picked his script up from the US state department on the way to the meeting with the press. This government has got it's head so firmly stuck up Bush's ass that they don't know what to do unless he tells them so.

The great (self inflicted - and perhaps internal jobs) excuse of 9/11has given the government's the means to terrorise their citizens with puffed up terrorist bogey men. The real people that we need to be afraid of are the potiticians.


Why in the name of security?

I understand that governments have incentives to collect identity information, legitimately or otherwise.

I'd like to know how any of this information sharing will help secure us? The problem with using identification and even biometrics is that it doesn't come with a flag for malicious intent.

How will the government ensure that the biometrics are used for security without being discriminatory? Or doesn't that matter?

Will it secure borders from the likes of suicide bombers?

I think that there are various agencies who would like this information and are using "security" as a means of getting it.


it's a disgrace

I'm already unhappy with my own government claiming that it needs all my vital statistics for some ill defined ID database/control and monitoring system,

but I'm utterly livid that foreign government that I can't vote for or against are going to get my information shared. I trust neither the government of the US or for that matter the current Australian one, and have no desire to have my details on their systems for posterity.

Surely, if someone is known to be a bomber they shouldn't be allowed on the plane in the first place, and if they're not any kind of threat then why does the destination nation need all sorts of information about them.

We are clearly not been told the truth about these systems, as they never seem to solve the problem they claim to be designed to solve.


John Reid is a 'traveller of interest'

As John Reid is so much in favour of the total surveillance state perhaps we should label him as a 'traveller of interest' and then if he tries to come back to Britain his new american friends in the Department of Fatherland Security could give him a ride on a nice private jet in a bright orange suit. Then after a few years of claiming to be innocent in Gitmo we can see how in favour of the database state and suspension of habeus corpus he really is.

Anonymous Coward

And Israel?

So all our EU travel plans get sent to the USA, where they're sent on to it's major allies, top of the list being Israel.

No thanks. Check you're EU Fundamental rights, you can't give away out data like that without our consent. Same goes for EU, if you hand EU data to UK, it will be handed our to the rest of the world. That is not in our interests. Read your charter, that charter is to protect US from idiot decisions passing politicians might make.

That charters and the UN one that proceeded it, has survived 60 years now and countless dipshit politicians have come and gone.

EU interests are 60% allied to UK.

UK interests are 60% allied to USA.

USA interests are 60% allied to Israels.

EU is only 21% allied to Israel.

EU interests are 60% allied to Estonias interests.

Estonias interests are 60% allied to Russians Interests.

The data will leak out like a sieve to countries who are not our allies and whom it's not in our interests to give that data to.

If Russia or Israel planted spys to monitor our flight plans there would be an outrage, yet do it indirectly and that's somehow OK?


John Reid

You know, there's something wrong about that - but I can't quite put my finger on it...

...oh yes! Wrong country you washed-up evil Marxist technocrat.

Anyone want to bet the next Home Secretary is somehow even more eye-swivellingly crazy than John Reid? I just can't think who it could be - short of David Blunkett and Hazel Blears performing some twisted Lovecraftian job-share.


Must have missed it....

Since I clearly missed it, when the &%*$ did we become the latest State in the USA - Announced in Washington?!?!?! By quite possibly the biggest psycho we've ever had as a "Home Secretary" (hard given some of his Competitors eg David "everyone's guilty and evil except me" Blunkett).

Ooooooo - now THERE's democracy in action!! One man, One Vote - except Nu Labour pass that one vote around between "Banana Republic" Blair, "DNA" Reid and "Your cash is my cash" Brown!!!! Providing Big Daddy Bush lets them.

Sorry, do I come across as fed up that our personal privacy and freedom is up for negotiation by one bunch of corrupt immoral cretins to any other bunch of corrupt immoral cretins?????

Rant over for now.



Once again Reid is twittering like a nervous bride eyeing her husband-to-be's tumescence. "Integrated programs", "advanced technology", etc., etc., etc.

I understand the alarm such pronouncements cause but please consider this: The UK government is incapable of positioning someone at each port of entry to ask, "And what is your legitimate reason for entering this country? Oh yes? Prove it." (And, upon said proof not being produced, "Hop it!") Or even employing someone at each of HM's prisons who's capable of looking up a file and saying, "Oh yes Mr. So-and-so. I see that, during your trial, it was found that you are - in fact - an illegal immigrant. Officer, please escort this gentleman to the Channel and shove him in."

And you think this lot are capable of gathering and exchanging traveller information?


Law of Unintended Consequences

FD: i'm a lifelong geek, with 20 years of professional experience in IT, mostly support and infrastructure, from POS up to datacenter design and implementation.

i don't recall who it was that said that society only changes due to the impact of technology, but i seem to remember that many people were outraged, and debunked the idea immediately.

this seems like a fine example of that concept.

governments are certainly incompetent at collecting data, but they are even less competent at validating, synchronizing and securing data. this turns your travel experience into an interesting game of chance: if data in Australia (for example) says that your name matches a "person of interest", will you wind up at Gitmo the next time you try to visit New York? once bad or misleading data spreads to other databases through "sharing", who will correct the errors? if someone fixes the mistake, will it be fixed in other "sharing" countries?

the US has an arrest database (the NCIC), where every arrest is noted, even if the arrest is by mistake, or never results in a conviction. the data is accessible to private parties, which means that one arrest can result in being blacklisted for life, never to find a high-paying job again (background checks frequently include arrest records). once the data makes its way to information brokers, it never dies and never gets fixed, as "what goes to the internet, stays on the internet". even if the record in the NCIC is expunged (which they almost never are), enough other databases have duplicates that it makes no difference.

maybe when this hurts enough innocent people, the public will wake up and turn against it. presently, most of the US population is apathetic, ignorant, and determined to remain so. there may be outrage elsewhere, but there is none here.

good luck with that "sharing" thing.

Anonymous Coward

Al Qaeda Sunni Muslims order Halal Meals

"The UK government is incapable of positioning someone at each port of entry to ask, "And what is your legitimate reason for entering this country?"

Yeh, it doesn't matter if they're incompetent, this has bugger all to do with actually protecting Britain. All the 911 hijackers were in the USA legally, none had criminal records! Our own bombers were pissed of British muslims, not foreigners. So a perfect system wouldn't have helped.

(BTW, The latest idea for Iraq is to arm and train Sunni muslims to fight Al Qaeda. Which is odd, given Al Qaeda ARE Sunni Muslims. You tell me how we are standing by and letting Bush arm Al Qaeda and doing nothing about it?)

It's all about collecting data for Echelon. Correlating Halal meals with terrorism, see who sits next to whom and infer some sort of relationship from it.

Did you sit next to someone on a watchlist? Perhaps that woman with a sippy cup who was humiliated at the airport and later on the TSA website is carrying a grudge? Did you sit next to her? Your threat probability has been increased!

Silver badge

Why data-mining will fail in this case (with DIRE consequences)

I think the real problem runs a bit deeper. Initially biometric were being gathered as a form of authentication: the idea being that the biometric is used as a form of validation of your pasport (i.e. does this version of Michael Wilkinson have the same fingerprint as last time round). This in my opinion is fine, and I feel we should use the most air-tight version (iris scan). In fact we already use biometrics in pasports, they are called photographs. Height is also often used. It is just a means of checking whether the person is who he claims to be.

However, increasingly, fingerprints in the US used for authentication are put in data bases of fingerprints collected at crime scenes, or from criminals. The problem is that if you CONTAMINATE a database of fingerprints of which you know there is a link to a crime with too many unrelated fingerprints, the chance of false positives increases dramatically. Effectively, rather than looking for a the right needle in a box of needles and some pins, the police will be looking for a needle in a haystack. Politicians think that if you collect enough data, you will be able to find any terrorist. Quite the reverse is true: if you collect ALL data UNSELECTIVELY you end up with noise. You may know the evildoers are in there somewhere, but you have very few means to distinguish them. Suppose you have a data base containing all fingerprints, and assume 99.99 % of people are OK (lets face it, fewer than one per 747-load are terrorists). This means that a classifier working on data-mining this massive data base (neural network, SVM, ..., take your pick) which assumes everyone is innocent will be in the right in 99.99% of cases. Quite a good performance and at the same time useless! Suppose I have a classifier which gets it wrong in just 1% of ALL cases presented to it (this is not a trivial figure to achieve). This means that about 3 people in every 747 will be wrongfully accused by the system. Not a good outlook.

A similar effect was seen in the development of cruise missiles: if the landscape was given in full detail over the entire flight-path, the missiles got lost, reducing the amount of detail (data), but providing the relevant details kept the navigation system on track.


Sit back ansd wait

It will probably take a gavenge of Gov. to get these farcical plan changed, and then they will just be exchanged with some even further right wing polotics. Imean just by posting here we have all got a little black flag (or red).

God forbid you ever protested against anything in your life or thats another blag flag, 5 flags and your a winner, free round the world trip thanks to the guys in the black sunglasses, who dont exist, and thier one off round the world rendition ticket....

This topic is closed for new posts.