EU may soon fingerprint foreign travelers

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Brussels, Feb.12 : The European Commission is likely to propose tomorrow that all foreign travelers entering and leaving Europe, including U.S. citizens, should be fingerprinted.

The United States already requires foreigners be fingerprinted and photographed before they enter the country. So does Japan. Now top European security officials want to follow suit. The proposal is part of a broader package of measures to strengthen the European entry and exit system so officials can know exactly who is in their country, the Washington Post reports.

According to the paper, the plan is part of a vast and growing trend on both sides of the Atlantic to collect and share data electronically to identify and track people in the name of national security and immigration control.

"It's the only way to be really sure about identifying people," the paper quoted a European Commission official familiar with the new fingerprinting plan, as saying.

The timing and logistics of the plan, however, remain uncertain, but it would probably not start for at least a year.

European privacy advocate Simon Davies said European officials are "blindly following" the United States "without the slightest commitment to openness or accountability."

About 13 million U.S. citizens fly from the United States to Europe each year, according to the International Air Transport Association.

ANI

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