Wednesday, October 06, 2004

In case you missed it last week, the UK's version of the US's Secure Flight (or now defunct CAPPS II) visitor monitoring programme is to be called Semaphore.

John Lettice at the Register is none too complimentary about the scheme.

"A lucky 6 million travellers on riskier air routes are to begin to experience the first phase of the UK version of US-VISIT/CAPPS II by the end of this year. The government has not as yet specified the routes "chosen on the basis of risk assessments by the border agencies", so we are in no position to gauge the likely complexion or religious persuasion of the first wave of victims, but one may surmise.

Aside from the essential inanity of a pilot scheme using specific routes "on the basis of risk assessments" (which merely decreases the risk of these routes and increases the risk of the 'safer' ones), this doesn't matter greatly in the longer term, because the government is taking the 'collar the lot' approach, and intends to extend the scheme to encompass everybody travelling into and out of the UK. And some - this particular pilot, Semaphore, is intended as a component of the projected e-Borders programme, which is envisaged as linking the Foreign Office, the Home Office, the Department for Work and Pensions, Immigration and Nationality, Customs & Excise, the Passport Service and of course, the biometric ID card. From that list the borders in e-Borders would seem to extend quite a distance inland."

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