ZDNet reports that the UK Border Agency is planning a network of booths to take foreigners’ fingerprints and photos. The Home Office agency has advertised for a single contractor to provide booths that are secure and private where overseas nationals can register for biometric residence permits by having fingerprints and a photo taken.

The successful bidder will also be expected to provide services to the public, as well as scanning and sending documents and dealing with payments from applicants. Equipment to video record each applicant, back office IT systems to collate and transmit enrolment data, and document scanning will be delivered under the deal.

A tender notice in the Official Journal of the European Union says the contract will be available to other government departments and agencies, including the Home Office and the Identity and Passport Service.

Wired has revealed details of NATO plans to issue biometrically backed identification cards to 1.65 million Afghans by next May. Local and NATO forces are already compiling “biometric dossiers on hundreds of thousands of cops, crooks, soldiers, insurgents and ordinary citizens”.

According to Wired, there are two primary biometric projects underway in Afghanistan.

“One is run by NATO forces, and uses the fingerprint readers, iris scanners and digital cameras of the Biometric Automated Toolset (.ppt) to capture information on detainees and other “persons of interest.” The U.S. military says it has assembled 410,000 of these biometric dossiers in the past year-and-a-half.

The second project, the Afghan Automated Biometric Identification System (AABIS), run by the Afghan government, collects data on Afghan National Army and police recruits.

Fingerprints, irises and faces are all scanned into Crossmatch Jump Kits. The kits are periodically brought back to Kabul, where the data is dumped into the AABIS mainframe — and cross-checked with biometric records from the Afghan National Detention Facility, Kabul Central Police Command, Counternarcotics Police of Afghanistan and FBI prison enrollments from Kabul, Herat and Kandahar.

As the report observes: “It’s a high-tech upgrade to a classic counterinsurgency move — simultaneously taking a census of the population, culling security forces of double agents and cutting off guerrilla routes”.

The Safran Group is buying L-1 Identity Solutions‘ biometric, identity and recruitment operations for around 1 billion. According to DefenceNews, the move will make the French aerospace and defence group the world’s biggest biometric identification company, “ahead of NEC of Japan and Cogent of the United States” (see also Safran’s press release).

Meanwhile, BAE Systems is buying L-1’s Intelligence Services Group for $296 million. “Their capabilities will enhance BAE Systems’ existing knowledge and expertise and will better position us to offer our government customers the security and intelligence support they need to complete their missions, now and in the future,” said Linda Hudson, president and CEO of BAE Systems, Inc.

BAE’s press release adds that “The acquisition of L-1’s Intelligence Services Group reflects BAE Systems’ global strategy to enhance and grow its business in the area of customer support and services, which includes cyber and security as well as readiness and sustainment activities. For the six months to 30 June 2010, this area of the business generated 49% of BAE Systems revenues.”

As The Times (20.9.10) observes: “as defence spending in traditional areas of procurement, such as warships and armoured vehicles, comes under pressure, BAE has increased its exposure to the well-funded security market.”

Human Recognition Systems (“the UK’s leading independent identity management and biometric specialists”) has entered into partnership with defence giant Thales and the UK Home Office to find “the airport security technology of the future” (a.k.a. INSTINCT-Technology Demonstrator 2).

INSTINCT-TD2 is described as “a government initiative to discover, trial and showcase emergent airport security technologies, solutions and ideas” (see HRS press release).

UK Security Minister Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones says: “The threat to our security is real and is evolving, and technology can play a key role in reducing that threat. This project shows how the Government is working with industry to find those innovative and emerging technologies.”

As are governments everywhere…


Transport Security Expo 2010 takes place in London next week, on 15-16 September, showcasing “a range of the innovative solutions for the Transportation Security arena”, including:

- Systems Integration
– Access Control & Biometric Solutions
– Blast Containment
– CCTV & Monitoring
– Explosive Detection
– RFID / Tracking
– Cargo Screening
– Seals / Tamper Evident Solutions
– Perimeter Security and Intrusion Detection
– Training & Consultancy Services
– Baggage Screening
– Passenger Screening
– Physical Security

The conference includes over 30 Workshop Sessions on ‘Securing Cargo’, ‘Perimeter Security’,  ‘Passenger Security’ and ‘Terminal Security’. Click here to view the full workshop programme.

The EU is also holding its annual security research conference this month, from 22-24 September in Ostend, see conference website.

SCR ’10 is focussed on the EU’s R&D programme (the security research component of FP7) and includes plenary sessions on “Halfway through FP7″,  “After Lisbon: The continuum of internal and external security” and “Security as a pre-requisite for prosperity”.

In addition, there are dedicated sessions on Maritime Security, Standardisation, CBRN, Cybersecurity, Transport Security, Security of the Citizens (sic), Security of Infrastructures, Restoring Security, Improving Security, Security and Society and the coordination of EU Security Research.

As with the Berlin security research conference, “ethics and justice” are squeezed into a single session (on Security and Society). The words privacy, human rights, governance and accountability do not appear anywhere in the conference programme.

The conference also includes a “brokerage event” and exhibition to “facilitate networking between companies, scientific experts, operators and policy makers”. More than one thousand participants are expected.

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) and the European Commission are co-organising a one and a half-day briefing tackling the “current state of play on security research, its challenges and its opportunities in the future”.

Counter-Terror Expo protest banner

Counter-Terror Expo protest banner (source: Demotix)

Demotix reports that a small group of protesters gathered outside Kensington Olympia yesterday to speak out against the Counter Terror Expo 2010 in London. There was a strong police presence inside and outside the event and one protester was arrested for writing “No more death for profit” and “Capitalism sucks” on the ground in front of the entrance.

The exhibition is sponsored by arms company Thales and organised by Clarion Events [responsible for Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi), the world’s largest arms fair and a long-standing target of anti-arms trade campaigners] and officially supported by a host of military, police and private security organisations. It features over 250 exhibitors, including leading arms companies such as BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin, and is formally endorsed by the likes of the MoD and NATO.

You can read more about the goings on at the Counter-Terror Expo 2010 in SchNEWS and on Open Democracy, where Clare Sambrook has taken a close look at New Labour’s cosy relationship with the surveillance and detention industry.

Here is an e-mail from FRONTEX that we did not receive:

We would like to inform you that Frontex R&D Unit has issued a tender call for the conduct of two studies as follows:

1.    Ethics of Border Security

2.    Forward Study on European Border Checks

The deadline for proposals is 21 May 2010 and the studies should be completed within 6 months, in close consultation with us.

As companies/institutions/individuals with whom we have had fruitful contact in the past, we would like to invite you to consider making a proposal for one or both studies should the subject be within your area of expertise, or to forward this information to others who you believe can offer the skills we are looking for.

Full details on the tender can be found at: http://www.frontex.europa.eu/procurement/calls_for_tenders_above_60000/

Please note that the “above €60,000” figure mentioned refers to both studies TOGETHER, though each lot can be bid on separately.

NO2ID | Stop the database state

The “European eID Interoperability Platform”, or STORK, is an EU-funded programme to set up standards for the interoperability of electronic ID systems across Europe. The project has recently caught the attention of NO2ID, the UK-based campaign against ID cards and the database state which, “after careful negotiation over several months” and a grant from Microsoft’s corporate social responsibility fund to cover the costs of its participation, has now been formally admitted to a STORK working group, representing civil society interests.

“As far as we know, we are the first non-governmental and non-corporate organisation to be given such a level of access”, said No2ID. “As things stand the Home Office’s scheme is by far the most pernicious ID scheme in the continent, if not the world. But if developing European standards starts to present a threat to privacy and civil liberties, then we are now in a much better position to know about it and lobby against it”.

See also The Register: “With MS funding, No2ID gains entry to EU eID group”

Two upcoming international conferences on the theme of border controls showcase the people, organisations and corporations building the state apparatuses of the future – but who is holding them to account?

Border Security 2010 is a commercial venture of the SMI Group on “land, air and maritime border security issues” that also has a counter-terrorism and public order focus. The event is sponsored by a host of defence and Homeland Security companies and takes place in Rome on 3-4 March 2010, following “sell out events in Istanbul in 2008, and Warsaw in 2009″.

Keynote speakers include Edgar Beugels (Head of Research and Development Unit, Frontex), Keith Best, (UK Immigration Advisory Service) and Thomas Tass (Executive Director, Borderpol). The conference also includes presentations on:

  • The EFFISEC project (an FP7 project on checkpoint security)
  • ‘Border Violence’ (brought to you by the European office of the Department of Homeland Security)
  • EADS National Security Programme for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Uses for unmanned aerial systems [drones etc.] in Border Security Operations
  • Security Planning and Technological Application in International Major Events: The Italian G8 Summit Experience
  • NATO’s International Border Security Agenda
  • Biometric Technologies for Border Processing (from the EU-funded European Biometrics Forum)
  • Analysis of the Mumbai Terror Attacks
  • UK National Security & UK Maritime Security
  • See full programme (pdf)

For its 2011 event SMI plans “a special focus on the use of border management technologies” with “special insights into how different surveillance technologies are being used to aid decision making and improve security at all levels”. Heralding a new era of government by robot, ‘Border Security 2011′ will consider “how far the human factor is being replaced and what your role will be in the 21st century environment”.

This theme is taken up by the second event. Towards E-Borders: The impact of new technologies on border controls in the EU takes place at the Academy of European law in Trier on 22-23 April 2010. The seminar will “take stock of the use and the impact of new technologies on EU borders” and the “role of Frontex and Europol”. Speakers include:

  • Erik Berglund (Director of Capacity Building Division, Frontex Agency, Warsaw)
  • Roland Genson (Director, Police and Customs Cooperation, Schengen Directorate, General Secretariat of the Council of the EU, Brussels)
  • Julie Gillis and Ian Neill (Director and deputy, e-Borders Programme, UK)
  • Jean-Dominique Nollet, Head of Analysis, Serious Crime Department, Europol)
  • Frank Paul (Head of Unit, Large-scale IT-systems and Biometrics, Directorate-General Justice, Freedom and Security, European Commission)

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