EU weighs traveler biometric requirements

By next summer U.S. travelers may have to start providing fingerprints and personal information to authorities before being allowed to enter Europe, according to a proposal expected to go before the European Commission this week.

All residents of non-European Union countries would be required to submit biometric information as well as personal information in a proposed European Passenger Name record, before being allowed entry into European Union countries, media reports state.

The fingerprinting proposal is said to be modeled after the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program run by the U.S. Homeland Security Department. Under U.S. Visit, foreign visitors applying since 2004 for visas for travel to the United States are fingerprinted when they make their applications. The program is scheduled to transition from two fingerprints to 10 fingerprints by the end of this year.

National biometric collection and storage programs represent major opportunities for contractors involved in identity management, identity cards and database networking and management. The budget for U.S. Visit is roughly $400 million a year.

In addition to fingerprinting, EU visitors would submit passenger information. Under that plan, EU states would collect and store for 13 years personal data on international air travelers, including their phone numbers, e-mail address, payment details and travel agent, according to media reports.

EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said last month that the proposals would be announced this month.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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