Interpol says lack of biometric data on terrorists a security vulnerability

November 10, 2016 - 

The Interpol General Assembly has emphasized the need to address the lack of biometric data being shared on terrorists, internationally, which it said is creating a dangerous security vulnerability that could be exploited by the some 15,000 returning foreign terrorist fighters.

Interpol has cited the proliferation of aliases, the complexity of fraudulent travel documents, the act of falsely declaring people have died in the conflict zones, and even basic issues linked to transliteration as among the increasing challenges to law enforcement in the field.

The organization said that the information it has made available at the frontlines should enable timely and effective action to not only accurately identify suspects, but to also exonerate innocent individuals and reduce disruption to legitimate travel flows.

As such, Interpol argued that biometric information focused on unique identifiers, such as fingerprints and DNA, plays an integral role in this context.

The organization explained that although it currently has information on nearly 9,000 foreign terrorist fighter – which includes those individuals from within the conflict zone – less than 10 percent of these profiles include biometric data or high resolution images which could be used for facial recognition.

“Although information shared via Interpol has enabled national law enforcement agencies to prevent numerous terrorists and aspiring foreign terrorist fighters from travelling, the lack of biometric data remains a weak link,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

“Not providing frontline officers with the information they need to positively identify a terrorist returning from the conflict zones is leaving them blindfolded/making them work with one hand tied behind their back.

“Governments should take a closer look at the reasons why they cannot or will not share biometric data on terrorists when it is clear that doing so greatly increases the chances of foiling potentially lethal attacks committed by returning fighters.”

In addition to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) recognizing Interpol’s efforts against the threat brought on by foreign terrorist fighters, other organizations including the Nuclear Security Summit, the European Union Justice and Home Affairs Council and the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL have all called for greater access and use of Interpol’s capabilities.

Previously reported, NEC will be showcasing its cybersecurity and biometrics solutions for law enforcement at the 85th ICPO-INTERPOL General Assembly Exhibition at the Nusa Dua Convention Center in Bali, Indonesia.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.