Network Security, Security Strategy, Plan, Budget

Appeals process advised for biometrics visa


An internal report has informed the federal government to put an appeals mechanism in place to cope with imperfect biometric systems. The privacy impact assessment was produced as the conservative government moves toward a biometric visa system.

The Canada Border Services Agency will require applicants for visitor visas or work permits to submit 10 electronic fingerprints and a photo before their arrival, so that they can be scanned against a database held by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

However, the problem is that biometrics matching systems are imperfect, says the report. It advises that applicants be given a way to appeal if they are rejected because of a false fingerprint match.

The report makes other privacy-focused recommendations. Applicants should be told what information about them is being collected, and how it will be used. Standards should also be developed governing how long information is kept and when it should be destroyed. And communications between the RCMP and Border Services and Citizen and Immigration agencies should be monitored to see if any other privacy issues arise, it suggests.

Canada has been courting biometrics for immigration purposes for some time. The 2010 throne speech mentioned a biometric-enabled passport for every Canadian. Since then, Plans to begin issuing the passports featuring biometric capabilities by the end of this year have subsequently been submitted.

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