Airport biometrics will pose a challenge to CIA in Europe

December 23, 2014 - 

The introduction of biometrics to enhance border security in the European Union will pose an operational challenge to CIA operatives, according to a secret intelligence report released by WikiLeaks.

According to a now released secret document entitled “CIA Advice for US Government Operatives Infiltrating Schengen”, current travel throughout Europe is relatively easy, because persons without official government positions are not required to carry visas.

However, next year, a new entry-exit system in the European Union will be put in place that requires fingerprint identification from all travelers within the Schengen zone who do not hold visas.

According to a report published in NextGov, the European Commission is considering requiring travelers who do not require visas to provide biometric data at their first place of entry into the Schengen zone, which would increase the “identity threat level” for all U.S. travelers, including those in the employ of clandestine services.

The secret intelligence report notes that it is still unclear whether U.S. official and diplomatic passport holders travelling to France, Greece or Spain will be required to provide biometrics when obtaining their visa. The report goes on to state that the identity threat for non-U.S. documented travelers required to obtain a Schengen visa will increase as the Europe-wide visa information system (VIS) is rolled out worldwide.

VIS facilitates the exchange of visa data between member states and is designed to prevent a practice  known as “visa shopping,” where an applicant who is refused a visa by one Schengen member state applies for a visa in another member state.

VIS conducts a one-to-many (1:N) fingerprint search of a centralized database to determine whether a person’s fingerprints are already contained in the database, possibly under another identity. VIS also verifies that the traveler is the same person to whom the visa was issued by conducting a one-to-one (1:1) comparison of a traveler’s fingerprint collected at a port-of-entry with the fingerprint stored in the database at the time of the visa application.

Due to the introduction of VIS by the European Union, Russia recently announced a similar fingerprint directive for foreigners.

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About Rawlson King

Rawlson O’Neil King is a contributing editor at BiometricUpdate.com and is an experienced communications professional, management consultant, trade journalist and author who recently published a book about control and electronic networks and who has written numerous articles in trade publications and academic journals about smart home and building technologies. Follow him @rawlsonking2.