UK to share fingerprints with Canada, Australia

UK to share fingerprints with Canada, Australia

Summary: The three countries will share and check fingerprint data from asylum seekers and foreign criminals under an agreement that will later extend to the US and New Zealand

TOPICS: Security

The Home Office has started sharing fingerprint data with Canada and Australia for the purpose of checking deeper into the backgrounds of migrants under suspicion.

The agreement, announced on Friday, covers the reciprocal exchange of fingerprints of asylum seekers and foreign criminals in each country. The US and New Zealand, the other members of the Five Country Conference border-security group, are expected to join the project.

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed to ZDNet UK that the scheme kicked off on Friday, and that the channels for data exchange are already open. The project will help uncover migrants who have tried to hide their past from authorities, it said.

"This new agreement will help us identify and remove individuals whose identities were previously unknown but also improve public safety through better detection of lawbreakers and those coming to the UK for no good," UK Border Agency deputy chief executive Jonathan Sedgwick said in a Home Office statement.

In the first year of the agreement, each country will have access to 3,000 sets of fingerprints with partner countries, a figure that is expected to rise as the scheme progresses.

The project will use encryption and other security tools to protect all shared files, the Home Office said. As a privacy measure, it will ensure that all fingerprints remain anonymous and cannot be linked to an individual unless a match is detected. In addition, there will be no database of collected fingerprints and all prints will be destroyed once a check has been made.

Privacy concerns over biometric data collection have arisen in the past with the UK government's plan to build a database of fingerprints and other data on citizens for ID cards and passports. No2ID, which has campaigned against the ID card scheme, also criticised the agreement covering foreign criminals and asylum seekers.

"Matching fingerprints is not an exact science, and if large numbers of fingerprints are being exchanged, the numbers of false matches will be high," said Michael Parker, press officer for No2ID. "Each false match means a family or individual will be harassed, accused and have their life disrupted."

Topic: Security

Adrian Bridgwater

About Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater a freelance journalist specialising in cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects of software engineering and project management.

Adrian is a regular blogger with covering the application development landscape and the movers, shakers and start-ups that make the industry the vibrant place that it is.

His journalistic creed is to bring forward-thinking, impartial, technology editorial to a professional (and hobbyist) software audience around the world. His mission is to objectively inform, educate and challenge - and through this champion better coding capabilities and ultimately better software engineering.

Adrian has worked as a freelance technology journalist and public relations consultant for over fifteen years. His work has been published in various international publications including the Wall Street Journal,, The Register,, BBC World Service magazines, Web Designer magazine,, the UAE’s Khaleej Times & and SYS-CON’s Web Developer’s Journal. He has worked as technology editor for international travel & retail magazines and also produced annual technology industry review features for UK-based publishers ISC. Additionally, he has worked as a telecoms industry analyst for Business Monitor International.

In previous commercially focused roles, Adrian directed publicity work for clients including IBM, Microsoft, Compaq, Intel, Motorola, Computer Associates, Ascom, Infonet and RIM. Adrian has also conducted media training and consultancy programmes for companies including Sony-Ericsson, IBM, RIM and Kingston Technology.

He is also a published travel writer and has lived and worked abroad for 10 years in Tanzania, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Italy and the United States.

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  • What I don't get...

    What I don't understand in this race to embrace technology for such uses is what difference is it going to make? as far as i can tell none what so ever.

    The politicians here in the UK over the course of the last ten years have let in more known terrorist's, murder's, rapist's, pedophiles, and other such scum, than has ever being allowed to cross into our borders ever in history.

    The truth is the UK government have no intension's what so ever of protecting us from such malices because of there own self propagation of minimum wage jobs, that no home grown can afford to take up because of the spiraling living cost's here in the UK are out of control.

    This has become so bad now even to the point where our own government has declined to hand over known and convicted murder's & rapists an such, that have escaped from foreign prisons even when directly asked to hand them back by legitimate foreign governments.

    They was no desktop scanner's 50 years ago! and yet boarder patrols where more than able to keep them intact, the corrupt poison that runs through the veins of west minister is rife.