European border patrol may start checking irises
The EU Commission is proposing the introduction of iris scanning for people entering the EU. According to a report in German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the EU Commission's proposals for new entry regulations include biometric iris detection; fingerprints will only be used in exceptional cases. The European proposal, which was published by the Commission on Wednesday, is based on a pilot project in Frankfurt called Automated Biometric Border Surveillance, which the EU claims has been very successful. Franco Frattini, the EU's Commissioner for Justice, Liberty and Security, praised the iris scan at a press conference with a select group of representatives of European newspapers. "Criminals will be kept out; honest citizens will move about freely", Frattini explained the principle.
Frattini says that the iris checks will show how fast and how automated future border checks can be. The iris checks will only be used for non-EU citizens entering or leaving the EU; Europeans will use the biometric systems in their electronic passports. The iris checks will also play an important part in the work that Frontex, the European border patrol agency, performs. Its "fast surveillance teams" will be the first to receive scanners.
Frattini's plans will probably meet with industry approval because the planned automated system entails considerable investments for border checkpoints, where mantraps will have to be set up for non-EU citizens. Critics point out that the Frankfurt pilot project differed in one major respect: it was designed to make travel easier for frequent fliers who voluntarily work with the technology to get through border checks as quickly as possible. The irises of participants are "enrolled" under optimal light conditions, and participants learn to use the scanner. It's only under these conditions that the throughput rate of 15 seconds for border checks that Brussels is striving for be met. In contrast, those who do not travel frequently will first have to learn to use the new border control systems.