Windsor Humanist Society

May 28, 2007

Biometrics at Border ‘Appropriate’

Filed under: Uncategorized — moderator @ 10:08 am

Documents with DNA or Other Biological ID Needed for Security, Study Says

Canadians will inevitably have to carry travel documents with their DNA, biometrics or other biological identifiers in order to ensure secure border travel to the United States, according to a new white paper to be revealed in Ottawa today.

Governments must prepare to make massive investments in new technologies at border crossings if they want to make the most of strict new travel rules for passengers under The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, says the paper, released to CanWest News Service by The Network on North American Studies in Canada, part of the foundation that administers The Canada-U.S. Fulbright Programme.

“We need to face the fact that there are some difficult challenges and that we need to address those challenges and we need to use whatever tools are most appropriate in a democratic society to make those decisions and to move forward,” said Michael Hawes, who will present the paper as executive director of The Foundation for Educational Exchange between Canada and the United States of America.

Government officials and policy experts from the U. S. Embassy, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and The Canada Border Services Agency will discuss the paper Monday in a panel held in the nation’s capital.

Although some technology, such as DNA- enabled passports or driver’s licences, may be a long way off, terror threats and other looming risks mean governments must begin to seriously consider how they will introduce those measures in the future, Mr. Hawes said.

“As the world becomes more complex, and as our expectations with respect to safety and security become greater, governments are going to have to invest in appropriate ( measures) — whether it’s technologies, additional people, additional infrastructure — in order to make sure that people can move freely,” he said.

The paper examines the issues and challenges involved in beefing up border security and requirements for enhanced travel documents.

Above all, the governments of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico must seriously consider the impact the new rules will have on their respective countries and work to ensure they can be implemented to prevent serious problems, it says.

Earlier this year, new rules came into force that require Canadian air travellers to show a passport before they’re allowed to fly into the U.S.

Canadians will also have to show passports at land-crossings — a rule that is expected to come into force sooner rather than later.

The original deadline was set for January 2007, but officials in both countries have been pushing for an extension.

Despite this, U. S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins recently urged Canadians to get their passports to deal with the new rules, which he says will take effect sometime next year.

But stricter rules that require travellers to show passports are just one step in the movement toward more secure borders, according to the report. In order to adequately confirm an individual’s identity and speed up the process of screening passengers, governments will inevitably move to enhanced identity documents that use biological information to identify travellers, it says.

“It is likely that there will be some form of biometrically enabled identifier or credential that individuals will carry,” said Gayle Nix, executive director with Accenture, a global management consulting firm who will moderate the panel discussion.

Mr. Hawes said the paper clearly directs governments to think about developing partnerships with the private sector to help implement new technologies at border crossings.

That’s necessary in order to properly take advantage of technological possibilities, such as embedding radio frequency identification chips, electronic fingerprints or even DNA into travel documents, the report says.

However, the report acknowledges that moving in this direction and linking an individual’s biological information on travel documents to a government database will likely stir a major controversy about privacy rights and protecting personal information.

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…this post forwarded by a Windsor Humanist (N.Hod) after a May 28, 2007 article by Carly Weeks in The Ottawa Citizen

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