February 15, 2008 5:33 AM PST

EC plans biometric border checks

Visitors to Europe will face biometric screening and automated security checks under proposals for a shake-up of EU border controls.

Under plans to strengthen checks at European borders laid out by the European Commission, international travelers would also have their stay logged and monitored by an electronic system, which could become operational by 2015.

The system would alert authorities to persons overstaying the length of their visa.

Biometric data would be submitted by travelers from outside the EU when applying for a visa, while those not needing a permit would be checked on arrival.

Automated border-control systems and guards would be able to check visitors' identities using the biometric data, with EU and trusted travelers from outside the EU able to speed up the process by using automated gates.

The Commission is also investigating the possibility of requiring electronic authorization for outside travelers as an alternative to requiring a visa.

From 2009, all EU passports will feature a digital fingerprint and photograph and, from 2011, non-EU citizens who apply for a visa will have to give their biometric details.

The measures would apply to the 24 nations within the EU's Schengen zone for passport-free travel. All EU states except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, and the U.K. are part of the border-free area, to which non-EU members Norway and Iceland also belong. The U.K. is believed to be studying whether to opt into the arrangements.

The Commission is also looking at creating a European border surveillance system to help prevent unauthorized border crossings, reduce the number of illegal immigrants dying at sea, and reduce cross-border crime within the EU.

The Commission said the system would use "state-of-the-art technology" for border-surveillance purposes and focus first on the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands, and the Black Sea before being widened to the "whole maritime domain" of the EU.

Data gathered for the system would be protected by security regulations and would be kept for no longer than five years.

Nick Heath of Silicon.com reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
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We need this in America too
With all the illegals coming into the US from both South America, and Canada, they should set up something like this too. Even though this sounds like something out of the bible book of revelation, I think that anyone who goes to school in the US,gets medical help or government help should also be checked. It's not just that they are"undocumented workers"(which is a crock) but it's a matter of national security.
Posted by ralahinn1 (52 comments )
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As long as it goes both ways...
I live in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. In the past two years, I have been shocked by the number of Americans living illegally in Canada. If this doesn't work both ways it'll never hold water. The US is not the only North American country having to deal with illegal immigrants from Southern America and overseas either.

But hey, maybe this would catch the ones you guys missed the first time they got through. :o)

No security system is perfect and the people are going to revolt just the same as many have regarding your new drivers licenses. Especially as this is going to have more information (they say biometric, not just fingerprints.) Once given that freedom to infringe upon the liberties of the people, what is to stop them from having a full genetic mockup on file and letting THAT get hacked into too?

Just a thought.
Posted by A.S.R. (1 comment )
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