UK immigration bill to collect biometric data from millions of people criticized


The recently updated Nationality and Borders Bill The UK Home Office plans to introduce an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system for EU travelers, which could collect biometric data on up to 30 million people per year.

The digital visa system will require an online application process that includes the submission of digital documents and possibly biometric information and data collection, which advocacy groups have criticized.

Interior Minister Priti Patel announced that citizens of countries that do not cooperate with the new system could be sanctioned with “expulsions and returns”, the total suspension of the issuance of visas for the country in question, or the imposition of forced increases in processing times. or a supplement of £ 190 (approx. US $ 262) on requests.

Patel is no stranger to controversy. The Home Office was criticized earlier this year for accidentally deleting around 150,000 arrest history records from the National Police Computer (PNC).

Since early October, the government has removed the use of EU and EEA identity for travel to the UK due to fraud concerns under the country’s plan to convert to digital passports and biometric data as the only authentication requirements.

Other amendments to the bill include measures allowing the introduction of the ETA system (electronic travel authorization – a visa waiver) whereby carriers will have to verify that all passengers have the correct authorization.

Criticisms and warnings about the impact that the bill could have been covered by The Guardian newspaper, rights groups; Amnesty International, Statewatch and the United Nations Refugee Agency, which spoke on the effects that the bill will have in particular with regard to the massive collection of biometric data. Statewatch reports that current safeguards on the processing of biometric and personal data risk compromising rights under the European Convention on Human Rights to non-discrimination and to “private and family life”.

The bill also proposes the use of x-rays on migrants suspected of lying about their age, in order to measure their bones, or to take and analyze DNA samples.

Pre-pandemic travel volumes indicate that around 30 million people per year will need to obtain an ETA under the legislation of the bill, with Ireland being the only country where this will not be required.

Articles topics

authentication | biometric data | biometrics | border management | data collection | digital identification | digital travel authorization | immigration | legislation | travel documents | United Kingdom | Visa

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