Visitors to the US who are not required to have a visa will be fingerprinted and photographed from Thursday. It applies to 27 nations which have so
far escaped the new security controls. These nations include several European nations, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Immigration officials will take a digital photo of each visitor and inkless prints of both index fingers. The US says longer queues are a small price
to pay for greater safety but civil liberties groups oppose the move. The new rules will apply to about 13 million people who enter the US each year
under the visa waiver programme.
The data will be cross-referenced against "no-fly" lists held by anti-terrorist and law enforcement agencies. The tightened controls are a response to
the 11 September 2001 attacks when hijackers crashed four aeroplanes, killing nearly 3,000 people.
Travel agents have warned of massive queues for those arriving at US airports, but the US Department of Homeland security says the checks will add
less than a minute to waiting times.
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Less than a minutes seems like a small price to pay for the saftey and well being or others and yourself. The screenings are in place at 115 major
airports and 14 seaports. By the end of next year, all US border crossings will be carrying out the new checks.
From October next year, all new passports issued in the 27 countries on the visa waiver programme must have a biometric passport, which will contain a
bar code and a digital photo. These countries include: Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland,
Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland, and the UK
Human rights group Privacy International says that this is a negative thing, and that the technology being used is unsafe. They go on to comment that
this is a "slap in the face" for countries who thought they were friends of the US. Travellers would have no rights under US law "when falsely accused
and deported", they added.