World Bulletin / News Desk
Canadas expanded biometric screening programme will cause further inconvenience for travellers and compromise privacy, say critics.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced an injection of $312.6 million for expanding the existing program for all foreign nationals entering Canada on a visa by 2018.
All travellers from these 151 countries, whether they’re tourists, students, migrant workers, refugees or immigrants, must submit fingerprints and digital photos to Canadian authorities for screening in their visa applications, and be matched upon their arrival at ports of entry.
“Biometrics tools can be incredibly useful in authenticating identity at the border, but any uses of collected biometrics must be properly controlled and subject to strict privacy protocols, including in relation to use and access,” said Sukanya Pillay of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
“We must not be so dazzled by new technologies that we forget basic privacy principles.”
The programme is part of a $137 million budget for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to combat terror threats and $10 million for Canada Revenue Agency to crack down on terror financing.
Barbara Jackman, an immigration lawyer said the programme is another reflection of the Conservative government’s “big-brother mentality.”
“The real problem is the people in some of these countries will not be able to get their biometrics information for their application. There’s no provision for people to bypass the requirements,” she said.
“It’s not like we’ve had a problem of terrorists overrunning this country without the biometrics screening. This is just another way for Canada to exclude people in certain countries from coming.”
Canadian officials will establish 180 biometrics collection service points in 94 countries, with an additional 135 centres across the United States for stopover visitors.