According to recently declassified briefing notes obtained by the Canadian Press, the CIC will begin sharing biometric data of travelers with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They will begin regularly sharing this information by 2014.
Earlier this year the CIC implemented new regulations requiring certain visa applicants to provide biometric data on visa applications. The CIC reports that this was done as an act to modernize immigration policies, spurred by an expanding concern for national security and identity fraud. According to the CIC, the U.S., France, the U.K., and New Zealand have been requiring biometric data from visa applicants as early as 2004.
Biometric data is defined as a confirmation of a person’s identity by presenting unique physical characteristics. Currently, biometric data is most commonly limited to photographs and fingerprints but could eventually span the width of retina scans and DNA.
While shared information regarding Canada-U.S. borders have been in the works since the 2011Beyond the Border Talks between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama, an internationally broader agreement could soon play a part in more expansive sharing of data.
The Five Country Conference (FCC), a forum for immigration and border security between Canada, Australia, the U.K., the U.S. and New Zealand, has plans to (and according to New Zealand already is) share biometric and biographic data between the countries in order to more effectively prevent identity fraud and assist in deportation and prosecution of criminals.
While the top priority for U.S. and Canada border relations concerns interests of national security, improved border relations hope to eventually benefit more practical concerns such as easier passage between borders for security cleared travelers and economic trade benefits for regular business between the two countries.