Saturday 7 January 2012

Brodie Clark and Jackie Keane

UK Border Agency News is published bi-monthly. Issue 6, the March 2011 edition, includes this article (p.5):
The Immigration & Asylum Biometric System (IABS)
The latest in biometric matching technology will be introduced to the agency in 2011. The Immigration & Asylum Biometric System (IABS) will replace our current fingerprint system (IAFS) at the end of 2011 with the latest in biometric matching technology.

Biometrics are used overseas, at the border and in country to establish a unique identity for each applicant. This is principally in the form of digital fingerprints and a facial photograph. Fingerprints are recorded and checked when individuals are applying for visas or biometric residence permits, and when asylum seekers require registration cards. The biometric information helps to ensure that decisions are made quickly and fairly and that the UK is protected.

IABS will replace the current system while also incorporating additional features. It will allow biometrics to be taken, stored and matched with improved accuracy to ensure that identity is reliably established, whether at the border or within country. It will also improve the service currently offered by providing the flexibility to extend the system in the future should additional functionality be required.

An exciting development has been the recent approval for the IABS technology to capture biometrics of visa national Games Family Members (GFM) during the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. GFM include athletes, coaches, sporting officials, sponsors and the media who are travelling on the Olympic or Paralympic Identity and Accreditation Card.

By replacing the existing fingerprint system with improved and advanced technology we are ensuring that the agency can continue to secure the border and control migration now and in the future. The IABS Programme Team, led by Programme Director Jackie Keane, is working closely with its suppliers IBM, Fujitsu and ATOS and the testing phase of the programme has started.

For further information please contact Janis MacLennan IABS Partnership and Communication Manager on 0203 014 4297.
Jackie Keane is a senior civil servant. You'll find her on the UK Border Agency Senior Management Team organisation chart, November 2011. She wants you to believe that, thanks to the ability of biometrics based on facial geometry and flat print fingerprints to "establish a unique identity" quickly, accurately and reliably for everyone*, the border will be secured, migration will be controlled and the Olympics will be safe.

Brodie Clark was an even more senior civil servant. And when he gave evidence to the Home Affairs Committee on 15 November 2011 (12:18-12:24), he said that the fingerprint check at the border was the least reliable security/identity check, it is the ninth and bottom priority and, when the crowds in the Arrivals area threaten to become chaotic, it is "very sensible" to stop doing fingerprint checks.

They can't both be right.

That is the "confusion ... in this vital area of national security" that the Independent failed to identify. That is the scoop that Brodie Clark provided at his evidence session in front of the Home Affairs Committee and that the Independent and every other media organisation missed.

* Biometrics do not have this ability. The UK Border Agency News article is misleading

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