Embassies use computers to identify travellers

1st August 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 August 2005, BERLIN - German embassies are stepping up the use of computers to recognize visa applicants who try to evade an entry ban by changing their name, the weekly magazine Der Spiegel said Saturday.

1 August 2005

BERLIN - German embassies are stepping up the use of computers to recognize visa applicants who try to evade an entry ban by changing their name, the weekly magazine Der Spiegel said Saturday.

The software can comb through millions of identity photos and fingerprints in German government databases to look for similarities. It has already been tested at the German mission in Nigeria and will soon be used in the Philippine capital Manila.

The report, released two days before Spiegel hits the streets on Monday, said the Manila mission would begin fingerprinting and photographing applicants within a few weeks.

The system had been tested from April 2004 to March 2005 in Lagos, where the volume of applications is much lower than in Manila.

It had detected that 40 per cent of 600 applicants for long-stay visas were not eligible, either because they had already been rejected under another name, had a German criminal record or had been deported after failing in claims for political asylum.

Spiegel said the fingerprints had been the main method of detection, with the facial-features-recognition software only picking up 14 per cent of applicants as already being on the German files.

However experts said that would improve once ID photos kept in Germany had improved.

DPA

Subject: German news

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