The British Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee (HAC), following a look into the National Biometric Identity Service (NBIS), has reported worries over the potential for success of the program as well as the potential for extreme effects across the country resulting from even minor failures, according to a ZD Net article.
The NBIS is a program that requires foreign students applying for student visas to submit biometric samples of their fingerprints that have been collected in their home country first. All the samples are to be held in a central database in the UK called the NBIS database.
Universities across the UK immediately announced concerns for such a project as roughly eight percent of all funding for UK universities is derived from foreign students. Additionally, citing past wide-spread government IT projects failures, they have expressed apprehension on trusting the enrollment of all the foreign students to an untested government IT program.
The HAC has mirrored the worries of the UK universities going further to cite that any failures in the program could have large economic effects on both universities and UK businesses alike. Another area where the committee cited worry is in the lack of biometric enrollment stations in many of the poorer countries around the world making it near-impossible for some potential students to have their data collected prior to entry into the UK.
To remedy this, the HAC has recommended the more enrollment centers be erected, mobile enrollment stations be created and that the matter be treated with a sense of urgency. While officials from the UK Border Agency, whom oversee the program, have said they have no plans for increasing the number of enrollment stations, they have reported to be working closely with other nations to utilize their biometric enrollment centers and made special arrangements for some visa applicants that have found no way to have their data collected prior to arrival in the country.
Read the full story here.