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EU border advisory group pitches biometric watchlist data sharing arrangement

Canada needs more time for enhanced air travel screening process
EU border advisory group pitches biometric watchlist data sharing arrangement

Changes are coming to the borders of the European Union and Canada, with the former recommended to adopt an integrated system of nation-level biometric databases for watchlist checks and the latter’s government working slowly towards taking the task of air traveler screening on from airlines.

The EU’s Future Group on Travel Intelligence, established by Europol and Frontex in 2019, has produced its final report on ‘Travel Intelligence and Border Management,’ which advises the establishment of a more integrated border control ecosystem in the EU, introducing pre-arrival traveler screening and risk assessments, which may be carried out with artificial intelligence.

The 83-page report, spotted by Statewatch, describes the establishment of an ‘EU Border and Travel Continuum’ consisting of 10 steps.

A European System for Traveller Screening (ESTS) would be established, possibly using AI and machine learning algorithms. The report acknowledges the “critical operational, cultural, technological, legal (e.g. purpose of processing, access rights and geographical scope of API and PNR regimes), data protection and other fundamental rights (e.g. non-discrimination) aspects which must be carefully assessed” to stand up such a system under EU law.

The report delves deep into legal and operational issues around “enhanced information exchange,” and recommends six steps to help move the process forward, from raising “awareness among operational entities” to setting up and evaluating pilots.

The information that could be exchanged includes watchlists of criminals and suspects, intelligence about potential threats and risks, and “targeting/screening rules and risk profiles that facilitate the identification of unknown travelers or shipments that pose an elevated risk,” as well as operational findings and expertise.

The biometrics collection and checks planned for third-country nationals under the incoming Entry/Exit System is used in the report as an example for how automation can ensure data sharing follows procedural rules.

The ESTS would be used for pre-arrival traveler screening, comparing travel documents and the biometrics of third-country nationals to national databases.

The group also proposes a feasibility study on the ESTS to consider what would be handled by national systems and what would be supported by central infrastructure, and related resource requirements.

Canada pushes back deadline for government-operated no-fly list checks

The Government of Canada is planning to give airlines more time to implement regulatory changes made in 2019 to reduce their regulatory burden, as explained in a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement published to the Canada Gazette.

Canada’s enhanced Passenger Protect Program (PPP) shifts the responsibility for checking air travelers against the country’s Secure Air Travel Act (SATA) (sometimes referred to as the “No Fly List”) to the government by centralizing the system, and sets up a Canadian Travel Number (CTN) to help identify people allowed to travel, but who have a name close to someone on the watchlist.

Airlines will have until March, 2023 to implement the new system for checks with digital identity documents like passports or with biometrics, under the proposed changes.

The government has held discussions with Amadeus and Sabre, which together serve 75 percent of the air carriers covered by the regulation, as well as various aviation industry groups, to amend the regulation.

As of this past February, carriers representing 58 percent of the country’s passenger volume had implemented the Government of Canada centralized screening system.

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