June 8, 2018 – Canada will expand its collection of biometric data from foreign nationals entering the country.
Data collection including fingerprints from those wishing to visit, study, work or immigrate will increase to citizens of 150 countries from the current 30 over the next year.
The expansion will begin on July 31, 2018 with people from countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa providing biometric data.
From December 31, people from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas will need to do the same.
Applicants will be required to pay an $85 fee.
Previously, data collection focused on applicants from countries considered likely to commit fraud or claim asylum.
When Will Canada Expand Biometrics Collection?
|Regions||Date collection will start|
|Europe, the Middle East and Africa||July 31, 2018|
|Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas||December 31, 2018|
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen has previously said the expansion is aimed at improving border and immigration systems by immediately and accurately establishing identity.
Privacy experts have raised concerns about the expansion and Canada’s plan to share the information with the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand intelligence services.
The experts say the more people who come into contact with the data, the greater likelihood there is of a security issue. Malicious actors are known to covet such data. A number of high-profile leaks have occurred from public and private organizations all over the world.
Who Is Exempt From Biometrics Collection?
- Canadian citizens and existing permanent residents, plus citizenship applicants.
- Travellers from visa-exempt countries who have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).
- U.S. citizens coming as visitor, worker or student.
- Anyone aged under 14 or over 79.
- Heads of state, cabinet ministers, those with diplomatic status on an official trip.
- Those with a U.S. visa who are transiting through Canada.
Given private firms in foreign countries will be contracted to collect the data, the need for screening and auditing of collection methods is clear.
Hussen’s office says many layers of safeguards have been built into the systems used.
Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien has had full access to and helped inform the development of the biometrics system.
Therrien’s office says the collection is justified in a security context. Important limitations include the data will be kept by the RCMP for 10 years and destroyed if a candidate becomes a Canadian citizen.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provides regular biometric data privacy assessments to the privacy commissioner’s office.
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