March News Biometrics Forum


March 2010

Dear EBF member,

Welcome to the EBF’s EU Report for March 2010.

In this edition:

  • BEST Network inventory of biometrics at Airports now available
  • CRESCENDO Workshop on ‘Movement of People’
  • Turkey to introduce Biometric Passports

  • EU opens borders to Long-stay Visa holders

  • Bulgaria works towards full Schengen membership

  • Switzerland – Libya diplomatic row takes a new turn

  • Romania looks to join Schengen

  • Czech Republic – Germany – Foreign ministers say border checks undermine Schengen spirit

  • Florida – Health Org. to use Biometrics

  • Indonesia – Biometric Checkpoints

  • Zambia – Election use for Biometrics

  • UK – Israel – Passport Incident On-going

  • USA – Senators propose biometric Social Security Cards

BEST Network inventory of biometrics at Airports available.

An inventory of best practices of biometrics at Airports is now available from the EBF led, BEST Network project. The BEST Network (Biometric European Stakeholders Network) is a European Commission ICT Policy Support Programme centred on a European Thematic Network on Trusted information infrastructures and biometric technologies.  Click here for the inventory

The inventory comes from Working Group 3 of the BEST Network on European Registered Traveller (RT) Schemes. This deliverable looks into the different appearances and definitions of Registered Traveller schemes in Europe. It also examines research on best practices of existing RT‐systems and also provides comparisons of these systems. The report concludes by giving an overview of critical success factors.

CRESCENDO Workshop on ‘Movement of People’

The EBF and CRESCENDO are holding a workshop on ‘Movement of People’ on Tuesday, 13 April 2010 from 9am-12.30pm in Brussels. The EBF is chairing the meeting

CRESCENDO (Coordination action on Risks, Evolution of threatS and Context assessment by an Enlarged Network for an r&D rOadmap) is a European Project from FP7 Security Research

Call 1: Security Research coordination and structuring, topic SEC-2007-7.0-02: European Security Research Networks. The workshop is in Brussels on 13th of April 2010 in Borschette building, 36 rue Froissard in Brussels.

Turkey to introduce Biometric Passports

Turkey is set to finalise two required preliminaries to the visa exemption it seeks with the European Union – biometric passports and a re-admission agreement. In line with EU standards, Turkish officials are set to introduce biometric passports, which use electronic technology to authenticate travellers’ identities, in June. The dark-blue passports used by ordinary citizens will be issued in a burgundy colour, like those EU citizens carry; currently red-coloured diplomatic passports will be issued in black.

A Turkish-Malaysian consortium had earlier won the tender to produce the new biometric passports but the contract was terminated in September 2009 when the prototypes failed to meet requirements. The government subsequently decided to print the new passports in the Darphane, or the state mint. The French digital-security company Gemalto will provide the chips for the passports.

Turkish and EU diplomats are also close to reaching a satisfactory conclusion to their re-admission negotiations, which cover what happens to illegal immigrants seized in the EU after entering through Turkey, and who deals with their asylum or deportation.

Turkey is also tightening its border security in an effort to ease worries in the European Union about the effects of such changes.

A Reform Monitoring Group – made up of the country’s EU affairs minister, justice minister, interior minister, foreign minister and the chairs of relevant parliamentary committees as well as high-level officials from related public institutions – has put the work-related visa exemption prompted by the European court at the top of its agenda.

EU opens borders to long-stay Visa holders

The European Union has opened its internal borders to non-European holders of long-stay visas for individual member states, agreeing to let them travel across the Schengen border-free zone.

Until now, holders of visas valid for more than three months had been barred from travelling freely throughout the Schengen area, making it in some cases impossible for them even to pass through the zone on the way back to their homelands.

Under the rules in March, holders of long-stay visas will be allowed to travel freely throughout the Schengen area for up to 90 days within a six-month period – the same right already granted to non-EU citizens who hold residence permits in the bloc.

At the same time, the rules oblige member states to run applicants for long-stay visas through a Schengen-wide security check, to make sure no other member of the zone has tagged them as a security risk.  They also oblige member states to limit the validity of a long- stay visa to one year. Anyone wanting to stay in any Schengen country for more than a year in the future will have to apply for a residence permit.

The Schengen states are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania are EU members but remain outside the Schengen zone.

Bulgaria works towards full Schengen membership

The “civil society” will have the right to monitor the implementation of measures for Bulgaria’s entry into the Schengen zone, Europe’s passport-free travel zone.

This is envisaged by an agreement, which was signed in March by Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov and the executive director of the Open Society Institute Sofia Georgi Stoychev.

Currently, Bulgarian citizens are allowed visa-free entry into the Schengen system and there is eased access to Bulgaria for Schengen visa holders, but the country is not a full member of the system. Bulgaria submitted its formal declaration of readiness in September 2007 and sent European authorities follow-up reports, penning in March 2011 as the target date for accession to the Schengen zone.

The estimates turned meaningless due to a delay in the award of a tender to produce biometric passports and lack of progress on the second generation of the EU’s Schengen Information System, more commonly known as SISII.

At the beginning of February 2010 the European Commission extended the deadline for Bulgaria to sign contracts in preparation for joining the Schengen Area until March 31, 2010.

Switzerland – Libya diplomatic row takes a new turn

The diplomatic row between Switzerland and Libya over the issue of Schengen visa has taken a new twist with the Italian Minister of Interior, Roberto Maroni, accusing Switzerland of using the Schengen Agreement to settle scores with Libya.

At the end of a meeting of the Council of European Ministers of Internal Affairs in Brussels, Mr. Maroni told the media that the establishment of a black list of Libyan personalities forbidden to stay in Switzerland “is an instrument of internal security and must not serve as a means of pressure by involving a group of countries’.

The Swiss Minister of Internal Affairs, Eveline Wildner-Schlumpf, who attended the meeting, said her country “has the right to apply the rules of the Schengen space’.

The Helvetic authorities have established a black list of 188 Libyans who have been denied visa in Switzerland, whereas Tripoli has decreed a travel ban for all European citizens from the Schengen space.

Romania looks to join Schengen

The Romanian Government’s has passed a draft law on setting up the information system to help Romania to join the Schengen space, the draft to be forwarded to the Parliament to adopt it in an emergency procedure.

Through the future law, Romania is to connect the Schengen Information System (SIS), a database used by the European countries signatories of the Schengen Agreement Application Convention (SAAC), to maintain and distribute information on individuals, and property, a system intended to national security, border control and law enforcement purposes.

The System will operate data on persons searched for warrant for arrest, or requested for provisional arrest for extradition, or undesirable on Romania’s territory, minors, mentally ill patients, and missing persons or in danger with an aim of ensuring their own protection, requested by a judicial authority, such as witnesses, those quoted to appear for notification of judgment and absconders, suspected of taking part in serious offence and having to be the subject of checks or a surveillance control. In addition, it is concerned with the following objects: motor vehicles under a surveillance control, lost, stolen, or misappropriated vehicles, banknotes, identity documents, blank identity documents or firearms.

Czech Republic – Germany – Foreign ministers say border checks undermine Schengen spirit

The controversial checks of Czech drivers by German police in the German border areas do not breach the Schengen agreement, but are at variance with its spirit in some cases according to the Czech and German foreign ministers, Jan Kohout and Guido Westerwelle.

Westerwelle promised that the German government will deal with the cases. Germany introduced the checks within a 30km band from the Czech border after the Czech Republic joined the Schengen area without border checks within the EU in December 2007.

The Czech ministry has received about 100 complaints by Czech drivers against allegedly excessively thorough checks, particularly in Bavaria. The Bavarian police sometimes check personal belongings and even carry out body searches.

Florida – Health Org. to use Biometrics

Simply Healthcare Plans (SHP), a Florida-based HMO (Health Maintenance Organisation), has partnered with Biometric Technologies, an ID systems provider, in an effort to thwart health care fraud, according to a CIOL article.

The Biometric Technologies product that is to be used for the SHP project is their BioClaim software that is developed specifically to weed out fraudulent health care claims.

BioClaim works by requiring submission of biometric data from the patient when they are seeking treatment and including that information along with the basic patient information as it returns to the HMO claims system.

Indonesia – Biometric Checkpoints

The Directorate General of Immigration at the Department of Law and Human Rights in Indonesia, has announced the country’s plans to implement biometric checkpoints to serve as border control.  The rollout, which covers 27 air and seaports, is expected to check passports, visas and permits and collect facial images and fingerprint data against watch lists to better secure the country’s borders.

Officials expect the use of biometrics to greatly enhance their ability to catch individuals on watch lists as they will be better equipped to match the person entering Indonesia with who their identification claims them to be. The Adisucipto International Airport has already had its system installed with the other 26 expected by June.

Zambia – Election use for Biometrics

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), with the assistance of the United Nations (UN), will this year use Biometric technology to conduct voter registration. Biometric technology will be used to measure and analyze human body characteristics, such as fingerprints for either identification or verification purposes.

The UN, through its Development Programme (UNDP), has already selected a company called Smartmatic to provide the new technologies for the improvement of the electoral register for ECZ.

For the first stage of the project, Smartmatic will supply ECZ with 1,000 mobile electronic biometric registry units, known as PARkits. This kit will include all hardware and software components, with their respective protective cases, training services, technical assistance and a one-year warranty.

Timely release of results has been at the centre of frustration that many Zambian voters and Political parties have had to endure in the last couple of elections. Any solution to address this problem will roundly be welcomed by all parties involved.

UK – Israel – Passport Incident On-going

In an appearance before British Parliament, Foreign Minister David Miliband has said that Israel is responsible for the misuse and forgery of British passports in the Dubai assassination of senior Hamas official, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

Miliband said that as a result the UK will advise its travel advisories to Israel and will issue biometric passports to its citizens to prevent further abuses. In addition, he is expected to expel an Israeli diplomat in the centre of the scandal from Britain.

USA – Senators propose biometric Social Security Cards

In an effort to fix what they called a “badly broken” immigration system in the US, two senators have proposed the use of biometric Social Security cards for all workers.

Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) signalled their intent to co-sponsor a bill that would require all US workers to have Social Security ID cards linked to biometric data. The proposed bill would require such IDs regardless of the workers citizenship status.

The biometric Social Security cards are on of “four pillars” in the bipartisan plan to reform the nation’s immigration system, and will be used to deny employment to illegal aliens within US borders.

Regardless of the plan, which attempts to address the issue of securely storing biometric information, there are pros and cons to such a proposal. Because the plan proposes to store information only on the card, both a person’s Social Security number and personal unique identifying information, such as fingerprints or retinal scans, could be entered into the public domain should a person lose it. However, the use of Social Security cards explicitly linked to uniquely identifying biometric information could help reduce certain forms of identity theft.

This report is based on information at time of publication.

Forthcoming events

Date Meeting
1-6 April 2010 EU Institutions closed
Easter break
13 April 2010 CRESCENDO ‘Movement of People’ workshop Click here Brussels
19-22 April 2010 Plenary session of the European Parliament
The agenda will be made available here:
22-24 April 2010 Justice and Home Affairs Council
26 -27  April 2010 Council of General Affairs and Council of Foreign Affairs Brussels
10-13 May 2010 IFSEC 2010
Discount for EBF Members
Birmingham, UK
15 May 2010 Deadline : Call for Papers for BIOSIG 2010

27 & 28 May 2010 11th Biometrics Institute AUSTRALIA Conference & Exhibition

7-11 June 2010 7th APR/IEEE International Summer School for Advanced Studies on Biometrics for Secure Authentication

8 – 10
Sept  2010
BEST Network First Dissemination Conference at BIOSIG 2010

Darmstadt, Germany
22-24 Sept 2010 Smart Event 2010  ‘The Innovation Forum for Mobility and Trusted Technologies & Services’ Sophia Antipolis, France
9-10 Dec 2010 RISE Stakeholder Conference Brussels

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