Canada’s biometric border screening program is going to expand dramatically this year with new requirements applying to visitors from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Currently, Canadian border authorities collect biometric data including fingerprints from refugees, asylum claimants, and visa applicants coming from 30 ‘high risk’ countries of origin. But starting July 31st, the program will be expanded to first nationals from the aforementioned regions, and it will be expanded again to apply to visitors from APAC and the Americas on December 31st. (Exemptions include diplomats, Americans on work or study permits, US visa holders, children under 14, and, of course, Canadian citizens.)
It’s the latest example of a global trend toward enhanced biometric border screening, with Canada’s Immigration Minister highlighting its security benefits. Biometric data from visitors will be held by the RCMP, Canada’s national police agency, for ten years, and will be shared with Canada’s partners in the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance – the US, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Privacy advocates are already raising some concerns, with a Canadian Civil Liberties Association official asserting that the biometric data collection will be collected on foreign soil by third party contractors to the Canadian government – an unusual and potentially risky way to go about this for the Canadian government, if true. But many visitors may be more concerned about the cost, with an $85 biometric data collection fee to be charged to each individual.
June 7, 2018 – by Alex Perala