Biometric Passports eh?
September 23, 2003 2:59 PM   Subscribe

The requirement to carry passports while visiting US, that will eventually include biometric markers such as iris scans as well as digital photos, leaves Canadians unhappy.
posted by riffola (23 comments total)
I got your Canadian biometric data right here, baby.
/cheesy Italian-American accent.

Y'know, this would have us a lot more unhappy if it weren't for the fact that many of us are so pissed off by the actions of the Bush regime that we've already decided not to cross the border for a while. And our funny money stays here, too.
posted by stonerose at 3:09 PM on September 23, 2003

And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. -- Revelations 13:17
posted by bobo123 at 3:11 PM on September 23, 2003

bobo, you're saying that your own God-given body is the mark of the beast?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:18 PM on September 23, 2003

Oh and god knows we would never want to piss off the mighty Canadians. They might... umm... rain down weapons of moose destruction on us. Or worse yet, cut off our supply of overhopped, imitation Britale.
posted by cmdnc0 at 3:33 PM on September 23, 2003

bobo, surely you're referring to the UK ID card, not the US passport, since the British Home Secretary has declared that people will not be able to gain employment without an ID card [or recieve benefits.]
posted by Blue Stone at 4:04 PM on September 23, 2003

What about us, USA, national badges in the future?

How is Europe now, last I was there I had to show my passport everywhere yet was told a Europeans didn't from one European country to another(may have been due to the train ticket. This was before the currency changed, any thing changed since 9/11?
posted by thomcatspike at 4:18 PM on September 23, 2003

Blue Stone, can you provide a link for that? I have an open mind as yet about ID cards - most of the continent seems to function with them - but any sign of compulsion will just get my back up.

Thomcatspike: in the EU, member citizens are treated just as Californians would be in Idaho - no passport required.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:27 PM on September 23, 2003

dash_slot- Thanks.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:34 PM on September 23, 2003

last I was there I had to show my passport everywhere yet was told a Europeans didn't from one European country to another(may have been due to the train ticket.

You should be able to travel between countries in the Schengen zone without showing a passport, once you've gained legal entry to one of the signatory countries.

As for the US: well, if you don't have a machine-readable passport, you'll need a full visa by October. Which, for men between 16 and 45, means telling the nice immigration people all about your schools, membership of societies and your inside leg measurement. Which is nice. Of course, it runs slap-bang into EU data protection law, but the Brusselsocrats haven't bothered defending them. Which is, again, lovely.

It's only a matter of time before the US demands that people get issued with barcode tattoos at the consulate before they let you travel.
posted by riviera at 4:35 PM on September 23, 2003

There's something about this story that strikes me as a little odd. Every passport I've ever seen is nearly identical. There's clearly some international standard governing them. It doesn't seem like the US can unilaterally declare that they won't accept that kind of passport. Further, passports are granted by the person's country of citizenship, not their destination. How well do you think it will go over, with say Russia, when the US declares that they must redesign and reissue all their passports?

The information in the story in general seems sort of shoddy. While it's sometimes possible to cross the border with nothing more than photo ID such as a driver's licence, the statuatory requirement has always included proof of citizenship, which a driver's licence does not provide.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:51 PM on September 23, 2003


"The home secretary, David Blunkett, is proposing a compulsory identity card scheme for everyone living in the United Kingdom. You would not be asked to present your card on the street, but would need it to prove you were entitled to work or gain access to public services such as education, healthcare or state benefits."

Also here. "Asked whether the cards would be compulsory, he said in his view no-one should be able to work or claim benefits without an entitlement card."
posted by Blue Stone at 4:57 PM on September 23, 2003

"It's not unusual for employees to be fingerprinted by companies for security reasons in the U.S., but fingerprinting is more offensive to Canadians because they associate it with criminals and we accept that," said one Bush administration official."

No kidding. I don't know anyone who has fingerprints on file for any reason, and I can't imagine volunteering to have mine handed over for a passport. The administration is crazy to think this won't impact economically on both sides.
posted by Salmonberry at 5:06 PM on September 23, 2003

The administration is crazy to think this won't impact economically on both sides.
The administration is just plain crazy.
posted by pangmaster at 5:22 PM on September 23, 2003

"the Homeland Security czar said."

For some reason that strikes me as being absurdly funny, like something from a Gilliam flick.

Maybe we'll get our act together and stop shipping power and oil down to you folks ;)
posted by The God Complex at 6:20 PM on September 23, 2003

Any Americans here with any experience getting citizenship (or something equivalent to a green card) in an EU country?
posted by bshort at 6:38 PM on September 23, 2003

Blue Stone, that sounds remarkably like the "Australia Card" scheme that was proposed here some time ago.

The concept of the US government effectively refusing to recognise passports of other countries is just so ludicrous that it may even be true. As I understand it, providing a passport is legitimately issued by a recognised government, it cannot be refused for not including biometric data. The US could insist on a higher level of validation of identities when issuing visas, but imagine the economic effect this would have, given that there are plenty of other places to visit in the world where you are not assumed to be a criminal until you prove yourself innocent.
posted by dg at 6:41 PM on September 23, 2003

jacquilynne, remember the A4 paper thread? Well, B7 is the ISO standard for passports.

But as to biometric standards as an addition to existing passports, the basic requirements are set by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations -- but nothing in the convention bars nations from implementing higher bilateral standards. That's why this is coming up as a potential agreement between the governments of the US and Canada; the Canadian government would have to sign off on revisions in the relationship. Note also that there's nothing saying that any country has to admit another country's nationals. Sorry, dg, but the era of international law superseding national law has not yet arrived. As I've tried to educate many times, "international law" is only what national governments mutally agree it is, generally by way of an international treaty or convention, or through a series of bilateral agreements in the absence of more general guidance.
posted by dhartung at 9:06 PM on September 23, 2003

Canada and the U.S. are each other's biggest trading partner.
Looks like Bush has found another way to kill the economy...
posted by bshort at 10:08 PM on September 23, 2003

I've recently reapplied for my Canadian passport in anticipation of a visit to the U.S. (and knowing that they're getting more and more strict about documentation at the border)...the person taking the passport photos took at least 7 different shots before coming up with one that was deemed likely not to be rejected by the Passport Office.

Forget B&W, they want colour only...neutral, but not white shirts, no glare on your face or glasses, don't smile, look serious...the person taking the photo had examples of shots that had been rejected — I could see absolutely no reason why they were turned down. It seems that getting a Canadian Passport has become an even more frustrating process than it was before. Add fingerprints, etc. to the mix and I think I'll be staying at home.

*sigh* the things I go through for MeFi Vegas.
posted by filmgoerjuan at 10:08 PM on September 23, 2003

dhartung, I stand corrected.
posted by dg at 10:39 PM on September 23, 2003

The Register article on European biometric passports.

Want to visit Britain? Join the fingerprint queue.

The Register: Biometric sensors beaten senseless in tests.
'c't looked at a variety of fingerprint scanners and Webcam sensors designed to identify users by either iris scans or facial recognition. Contrary to the marketing claims of developers, c't found that the devices were "more of the nature of toys than of serious security measures". '
'c't gave biometrics a resounding thumbs down, after fooling a large number of devices with simple tricks and finding some unusable. '

Flying to the US? Give all your personal data.
'The European Commission has tamely agreed to airlines handing over personal details of all passengers flying to the US, in the name of 'homeland security.' These details could include all sorts of stuff the airline happens to have on record for you, including credit card numbers, phone numbers, special dietary requirements, and any other comments it has entered on the Passenger Name Record (PNR). '

Fingerprinting of UK school kids causes outcry.

Face recognition fails in Boston airport.

Face-scan outfit rushes to exploit WTC atrocity.
posted by plep at 12:14 AM on September 24, 2003

hrm, while the canadians are giving blood samples to get into the usa, will this american citizen still be able to get drunk in tijuana only needing my expired driver's license to get back home?
posted by armacy at 9:09 AM on September 24, 2003

Thanks, dhartung, that specification is incredibly, umm, I don't even have a word for what that specification is. Detailed, is appropriate, but perhaps understated.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:03 AM on September 24, 2003

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