Privacy advocates in Canada have been raising concerns over the risk involved in two new biometric programs from the government that result in the sharing of private biometric data with other countries’ governments and possibly private corporations, according to an Embassy Magazine article.
The new programs are modeled after similar programs around the world that collect biometric data, such as fingerprints from immigrants traveling to the country, those traveling with fraudulent documents, wanted criminals and suspected terrorists.
In addition to fingerprinting immigrants upon entry to the country, certain countries’ residents will also be required to submit fingerprints and photographs when applying for temporary residence visas.
Assuming the traveler clears the background check, he will have his biometrics checked once more upon entry to the country to ensure the traveler is the same person who applied for the visa in the first place. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) hasn’t revealed which countries citizen’s the program will include.
Chief among the worries of privacy advocates is that private contractors will handle the data collected at the borders and not CIC. The agency has outsourced some of the processing work that handles immigrants’ biometric data.
In addition to this, Canadian privacy advocates also have expressed concerns for the data sharing with the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand as a result of the Five Country Conference. This conference results in an agreement that the countries would share biometric data of non-citizens with each other for immigration purposes.
In an effort to assuage some of the worries of privacy advocates, all five nations involved in the sharing hired a third-party risk assessment firm that offered recommendations for mitigating risk in the data sharing.
Among the measures taken are sharing biometric data so that fingerprints aren’t linked with a person’s biographical data unless a match is made, destroying fingerprints after a search, exchanging the minimal amount of information until a match is made and thoroughly encrypting files both locally and while transferring the data.
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