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EU Plans to Require Biometrics for Visitors 238

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the tourism-killers dept.
bushwhacker2000 writes to tell us that the EU may soon be requiring travelers to provide biometric data before crossing into Europe. They are trying to soften the blow by offering "streamlined" services for frequent travelers but the end result seems the same. "The proposals, contained in draft documents examined by the International Herald Tribune and scheduled to go to the European Commission on Wednesday, were designed to bring the EU visa regime into line with a new era in which passports include biometric data. The commission, the EU executive, argues that migratory pressure, organized crime and terrorism are obvious challenges to the Union and that the bloc's border and visa policy needs to be brought up to date."
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EU Plans to Require Biometrics for Visitors

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  • Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2008 @05:55PM (#22383904)
    Doesn't sound so bad to me, a few peices of my soul for a chance to visit a place where my American dollars are now worth crap and I widely disliked... Indeed, a win win proposition.
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PCM2 (4486) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:00PM (#22383956) Homepage

      Doesn't sound so bad to me, a few peices of my soul for a chance to visit a place where my American dollars are now worth crap and I widely disliked... Indeed, a win win proposition.

      Well, to be fair, we started it. [bbc.co.uk]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) *

        Well, to be fair, we started it.

        Umm, both America and Europe now. Maybe it's time to refresh the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants?

        • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:54PM (#22384648) Journal
          It's patriots and tyrants, and the trick is to find the patriots who are willing to refresh the tree of liberty with their own blood as well as that of tyrants.
          • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Shakrai (717556) * on Monday February 11, 2008 @07:24PM (#22385062) Journal

            and the trick is to find the patriots who are willing to refresh the tree of liberty with their own blood as well as that of tyrants.

            Too bad most people in the modern world are perfectly content with losing their rights, provided that they still have their blackberries, TVs, cheap gasoline, houses and the illusion of security from terrorists.

            Yeah, it's probably not as bad as all that, but it sure does feel that way sometimes, doesn't it?

            • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

              by dave562 (969951) on Monday February 11, 2008 @07:52PM (#22385416) Journal
              I'm starting to see the other side of the equation. I was watching a show on television the other night and the subject was MS13, the gang that started in Los Angeles and is now spreading across Central America (El Savador, Guatamela and Honduras). One of the big problems that the police are encountering when dealing with the gang is that when they arrest the guys here in America, they deport them. Once deported they join the gang in Central America. When they get into trouble in Central America they flee back to the United States. If we had stronger controls over who comes in and out of the country, we'd have an easier time tracking criminals who jump back and forth across the border.

              I think that a lot of people (myself included) who have problems with these "intrusive programs" aren't dealing with the realities of the situations that they are implemented to deal with. We're all worried about these frightful "what if" scenarios. We don't realize that there are some situations in which "intrusive" tactics are required. For example I do some community service in Long Beach, CA. The place where I do community service is a "very bad" neighborhood. The police are actively doing what they can to deal with the problems (drug dealing, auto burglaries, gang intimidation, etc.) Part of what the police do is they stop anybody who they see riding around on bikes. They stop the people to figure out who they are and what they are doing in the neighborhood. On one hand, doing so is probably a violation of some "inherent rights." On the other hand, the police are doing what they need to do to reduce the number of convincted criminals running around the neighborhood.

              I don't really buy into the whole War on Terror crap that is being shoved down our throats because I am well read enough and educated enough to realize that our government created al Qaeda and our government actively supports governments that oppress their people to the point where they become "terrorists." So although "terrorist" might not be a good label to put on freedom fighters actively resisting the new world order, the label definitely does fit some organizations that are terrorizing communities right now, right here in the United States. Organizations like MS13, the Mexican mafia, etc.

              • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

                by esper (11644) on Monday February 11, 2008 @10:18PM (#22387100) Homepage

                Part of what the police do is they stop anybody who they see riding around on bikes. They stop the people to figure out who they are and what they are doing in the neighborhood. On one hand, doing so is probably a violation of some "inherent rights." On the other hand, the police are doing what they need to do to reduce the number of convincted criminals running around the neighborhood.
                That sounds to me like a perfect example of a case in which the police should be doing a better job of keeping track of those convicted criminals rather than taking the opportunity to show off their power by harassing innocent passers-by.
                • by dave562 (969951)
                  That sounds to me like a perfect example of a case in which the police should be doing a better job of keeping track of those convicted criminals rather than taking the opportunity to show off their power by harassing innocent passers-by.

                  Just how exactly do you think the police should be "keeping track" of the criminals on probation? Maybe we should put cameras on every corner and implant GPS tracking devices in everyone ever convicted of a felony? Is that what you're proposing?

                  Have you ever lived in any

              • by BoberFett (127537)
                Gang problems could be largely solved by ending the stupid, wasteful, and unfruitful war on drugs.
                • by dave562 (969951)
                  The funding for the gangs could be severely impacted by ending the war on the drugs. I'm not sure that the gang problem would be largely solved though. It has to do with a lot of things like poverty, joblessness, single parent households and a couple other factors. The drug trade just provides large amounts of money to the gangsters.
                  • by BoberFett (127537)
                    Gangs with nothing of any real value to fight over will be limited to petty crime and maybe small time violence against one another. These international gangs aren't the old turf war gangs everyone loves to watch Hollywood movies about, they're all about drugs and the money that follows.
              • ... Or we could stop prohibition in which case the finance and reason for the gangs would go away.

                Rich.

              • The police are actively doing what they can to deal with the problems (drug dealing, auto burglaries, gang intimidation, etc.)
                Normal police work, then.

                Oh, you mean those are the problems.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by digitalchinky (650880)
              I guess you were making a slightly unrelated point :-) Anyway, Australia has had biometric passports since 2005, the application process is virtually unchanged from when I got my first 10 year passport in 1990. I can't even remotely begin to imagine how this erodes my rights in any way. I'm sure someone will enlighten me though. They take my name, date of birth, place of birth, my picture, then make a digital fingerprint of it which is stored on a chip wedged inside page 17.

              All in all they ask for very litt
              • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Shakrai (717556) * on Monday February 11, 2008 @11:09PM (#22387524) Journal

                I can't even remotely begin to imagine how this erodes my rights in any way

                It erodes your rights because the Government (at least here in the States, dunno about down under) would usually need probable cause before it could compel you to turn over biometrics (DNA, fingerprints, etc). I.e: You'd need to be accused of a crime with at least some underlying evidence before they could compel you to turn it over.

                Ah, but now they can demand them to get a passport (or worse yet: drivers license). If you complain the answer will invariability be something along the lines of "Well, travel is a privilege and not a right". As if the Government is a parent that gets to dole out "permission" to the children before they can do stuff.

              • Australia has had biometric passports since 2005,

                ----snip----

                They take my name, date of birth, place of birth, my picture, then make a digital fingerprint of it which is stored on a chip wedged inside page 17.

                That's not a biometric passport. That's just a regular passport with all the information digitally encoded. Your name, date of birth, picture, etc, are all available to anyone who opens the first page and looks at it. Your DNA/fingerprints aren't. They also aren't in the digital part of your

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Creepy (93888)
        yeah, and any day I expect the US to adopt the biometric anal probe

        ah sir, just bend over and keep your pants down - this is a two part deal - no two anal linings are alike and we need to be sure you didn't shove weapons of mass destruction up there!

        ah, sir, is that what I think it is? I need to remove and confiscate this socket wrench set and duct tape... you can keep the hamster, but you really should transport pets in a pet container. Have a nice day!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by aiwarrior (1030802)
        Not only you(Americans) started it( i had to get a new passport so i could suit your requirements ), but as i read in this article http://freeinternetpress.com/story.php?sid=15272 [freeinternetpress.com] you are going to tighten rules even more.
        I loved my trip to U.S.A. and would like to return there in the near future, but it really spoils the experience when i'm treated like a criminal who has to answer a form with such ridiculous question as "Are you making your trip with any intent of committing a crime in the United
        • (AIW, this isn't just aimed at you man, I just found your comment a good place to latch this. Feel free to respond. Hopefully insightful remarks... as I would appreciate them, they're rare on slashdot.)

          Rather than "evil" or "helplessness" have you tried demanding that all who travel be responsible for themselves and their co-travelers? I.E. do it the old fashioned way. If you're weak, pathetic and can't handle yourselves, travel with those who are. If you demand that you and yours be helpless, don't ge
        • Don't feel bad; even though I'm a long-term resident of Japan with a teacher's visa and a Japanese wife, they still treat me to the criminal treatment every time I come back from a trip.

          Wonder what they're going to do when a foreign resident arrives with their Japanese children? The children qualify to go through the residents' line, but the parent doesn't? That, or the treat the children as second-class citizens as well? Cool.
    • by couchslug (175151)
      I'm delighted that governments make efforts to control their borders. Their countries do not belong to anyone else but their lawful citizens. As a visitor, I have zero reason to conceal my identity and every reason to want to prove who I am.
      • Where that thinking breaks down is when the country you're visiting trades that data you gave them for information on its own citizens.
  • by Azul (12241) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:00PM (#22383954) Homepage
    Ugh.

    One of the reasons I'm so worried to see the downward trend towards fascism in the United States is that in many ways Europe is not going in the opposite direction, it is simply lagging behind. Sure, I came to live in Switzerland, but I'm always seeing the same political abuses start to happen here just a few years after they start to happen in the United States, the same pro-corporations laws like the DMCA and the same trampling on people's rights, just a bit delayed.

    Somehow this happening in the EU does not really surprise me. :-(
    • by Jerf (17166)
      Given the multi-dimensional nature of "fascism" (not the best word, but we'll use it), that is, you can't just create a "fascism index number" and compare two places with a simple integer comparison, it is far more fair to say that both entities are blazing their own paths in this direction, neither particularly leading nor particularly following.
  • Or is the biometric data stored in some central database? One must consider the weak points of this particular system, especially as far as the 'frequent traveller' system is concerned. If the scanner just checks the passport against the list of "OK" travelers, that's going to be easy enough to defeat; if it asks for fingerprints and facial features, that may be harder, but still quite possible to defeat with a little preparation time and some suitable research.

    Of course, the human element on the manual c
    • Presumably... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by C10H14N2 (640033) on Monday February 11, 2008 @07:00PM (#22384726)
      Like the U.S. system of past and present...both.

      The chipped passports have a copy of what is printed on the face plus the extra biometric bits, all of which is also stored in a database, including reconciled entries for your previous visits through passport control. If the printed information or chip output differ from the central copy, they know it has been tampered with. This is not a terribly large departure from what already has been happening for decades when they scan your passport or punch in the number to pull up the record manually. The only difference in any of this is that they're adding a couple extra fields that don't really lend themselves to visual inspection. The cross-border data sharing and centralized collection within each country isn't remotely a new idea.

      Besides, the more "secure" the document gets in the sense of positively linking it to the person carrying it, the less frightful the consequences of losing it. Not long ago, if you were roughly the same height/weight/age/gender, you could pretty well just pick a passport out of a stack provided by the hotel maid service. I mean, 6'1" brown/brown 180lbs 30yo male isn't a very precise set of biometrics, which doesn't sound too terrible until someone matching your description smuggles drugs into the country on your passport before you realize it went missing. If they can solve the question of "is this REALLY you" with an iris scan and a fingerprint, roughly 99.9% of the stolen document industry will disappear leaving only the most ridiculous James Bond worthy scenarios to worry about.

      The bottom line is that the document is an assertion of the holder's identity. You have a personal interest in ensuring that you are the only one who can use it to successfully make that assertion.
      • by vux984 (928602)
        If the printed information or chip output differ from the central copy, they know it has been tampered with

        Or the chip got scrambled going through the xray machine.
        Or is just out and out defective.
        Or the chimp doing database maintenance screwed up.
        Or someone has a tampered with the central database.

        If they can solve the question of "is this REALLY you" with an iris scan and a fingerprint, roughly 99.9% of the stolen document industry will disappear leaving only the most ridiculous James Bond worthy scenario
        • by mpe (36238)
          Or the chip got scrambled going through the xray machine.
          Or is just out and out defective.
          Or the chimp doing database maintenance screwed up.
          Or someone has a tampered with the central database.


          Or some fool lost a copy of this database they don't even need to lose a portable computer. All they need to lose is a piece of plastic, metal, varnish and dye worth some utterly trivial amount of money.

          Nevermind that peoples records get mixed up all the time in the real world databases we already have, not to
      • Besides, the more "secure" the document gets in the sense of positively linking it to the person carrying it, the less frightful the consequences of losing it.

        Yeah, because a few years ago the world was "frightful". Oh hang on, no it wasn't. Travel was far more civilized, governments focused on freedom and happiness, and technology boomed (we travelled to the moon!).

        Rich.

  • Same result (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:02PM (#22383984) Homepage
    They are trying to soften the blow by offering "streamlined" services for frequent travelers but the end result seems the same

    Translation: we want Americans to know what it feels like when we try and enter their country.
    • ...if the EU required brain "fingerprinting" of some sort. Not that it would tell them anything, it would probably be useless even as a biometric, but with world paranoia levels at stratospheric levels, absolutely nobody is going to believe that. You'd end up with either everyone doing the same and ending up with information overload (making said information useless - very popular jamming technique but only effective when you're talking about orders of magnitude of swamping) or a climbdown due to an outbrea
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Translation: we want Americans to know what it feels like when we try and enter their country.

      Which begs the question... What voltage do EU tasers run at?
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:02PM (#22383992) Journal
    Since when are pictures and finger prints NOT biometric data?
    • (Also: Hair color, eye color, height, weight, sex, ...)

      It's not like this stuff is new. It's just getting more complete - and intrusive.

      These ARE documents used by governments to certify to other governments that they'll take this person back, exactly who it is they're certifying, and where he's been the last few years.
  • by Verteiron (224042)
    If I copyright the images of my retinas and fingerprints, can I sue the governments for keeping a record of it without my permission?
    • and they will just not allow you in and put you on the next plane outta there.
  • by Whammy666 (589169) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:08PM (#22384072) Homepage
    It seems there is a real competition in the world to see who is the most paranoid country on the planet. Governments across the globe have surpassed any level of terror the terrorists could generate because they have institutionalized fear to far greater effect than the terrorists could ever achieve on their own.

    Personally, I think this nonsense has more to do with xenophobia, racism, and political control than with combating actual terrorism.

    • by owlnation (858981)
      Mod parent insightful.

      And the UK is currently leading the competition. I doubt if even China or North Korea could catch them now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    the EU should just ban the USA from visiting and vice versa, it would be much more convienient
    perhaps we shall goto China or Russia this year, none of this fingerprint and eye photo crap at the US border and as a bonus we get treated like guests not criminals

    so say goodbye to the US tourism industry RIP 2008

    The US administration is pressing the 27 governments of the European Union to sign up for a range of new security measures for transatlantic travel, including allowing armed guards on all flights from Eu
    • by poetmatt (793785)
      Hate to say it, but mod AC up. It really is going to kill tourism on some levels and I for one don't need additional data being captured on myself just to get somewhere. This is retarded.
      • by dgatwood (11270)

        What's next? Razor wire fences around the entire continent with border checkpoints? Papers, please. When did the EU become Nazi Germany again?

        I can tell you right now that if this passes, this summer's trip to Italy will be my last European trip. I've f*cking had it with governments treating everyone like a criminal, and I won't spend my hard-earned money to support any EU nation that signs on for this bullshit. I encourage everyone of a like mind to do the same.

        Remember, you have a choice in vacat

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by delire (809063)
          Before you start damning the EU for doing this quite so liberally, take note that America has been doing this to us EU citizens for quite a while now: on a recent trip to America I had both index fingers printed and my eyes photographed. It most certainly discourages me from returning.

          Worse, the guy taking the photos was aggressive and treated me with suspicion - and to think I was going there to teach students at one of your most well reputed technical universities, complete with invitation in hand.

          Oh
    • by Adambomb (118938)
      And Canadian convention center owners wring their hands in anticipation.

      Kudos to the US and the EU for making us one of the best places to hold a convention in the modern world!
  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:17PM (#22384166)
    its like the old story about a guy who goes to the doctor.


    the doctor says, "I'll need a stool stample, a blood sample, a urine sample and a semen sample."

    the guy says to the doc, "here's my underwear; YOU sort it out!"


    something tells me, though, that customs folks don't quite have any sense of humor... but that's the kind of 'bio data' I'd like to give them.
  • Great idea... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kryten_nl (863119)
    We'll be harassing air travelers, while the (ever moving) eastern border is a proverbial highway for illegal travel. 'Cause Al-Qaeda prefers to fly first class before they blow themselves up, that will show them.
  • The evil, nasty government is going to know my shoe size, earlobe shape and eye colour!
    • by giafly (926567)

      The evil, nasty government is going to know my shoe size, earlobe shape and eye colour!

      ...and a week later so will anyone who can be bothered to search through government skips (dumpsters). The issue for me is that you have to assume that everything you tell the government, including this minor stuff, will eventually be available to anyone with a criminal scheme to use it. Mail me £1K or expect a phone call along the lines of: "Hello Mrs JJH, I'm having an affair with your husband. Yes I mean JJ, an

  • by adnonsense (826530) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:36PM (#22384340) Homepage Journal

    I've just arrived in Japan, which has - following pressure from the US - introduced fingerprinting at the border for all foreigners (including those with residence rights, not just visitors). While the process was relatively smooth (put your index fingers on a little machine), it's been my first contact with the world of paranoid "anti-terrorist" biometrics and for me marks the end of an era where international travel has been an expression of freedom.

    • by Fex303 (557896)
      I take you haven't been to the US lately. At least, not as a non-citizen.

      The number of people protesting this is kinda sad, given that it's clear that those people must be Americans who don't realize that the US DoI has been doing exactly this for a number of years now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by esper (11644)
        No, this American has been against US entry policies for a number of years as well. It was a bad move by the US and the source of my dismay now is not that such things are starting, but that the rest of the world seems to be following our lead rather than recognizing that paranoia is never a good answer.
      • Nope, definitely not a US citizen and though I'd like to visit some day, I am in absolutely no hurry.

        I've got "vested interests" in Japan and have no option really, apart from abandoning a large part of my life.
  • by AdmV0rl0n (98366)
    People missed the primary core part of this. If you have to take biometrics on entry, that means your own citizens as well as visitors. The EU biometric stuff has been going on for some time. Its all explained or hidden away in various guises but its there.

    The 'Empire' is slowly moving from Utopian Europe to a darker phase.

    And yes, I know, I know, if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear. Only these people love to create new things wrong you may have done. In the UK now, if you smoke, drink,
    • The 'Empire' is slowly moving from Utopian Europe to a darker phase.

      When was this "Utopian Europe" ever realized? In the 50's? In the 60's? In the 70's? Every decade has had its own paranoias and its own intrusion into civil liberties.

      Nor is the concern about this new either. Look at all the dystopian SciFi from the 70's.
  • by cdf123 (623917)
    What happens if you burn your finger(s) on your vacation?

    Biometrics sounds like a good idea, but I can never justify the single point of failure involved with it. It seems like it would be very easy to get false negetives.

    I use usb keys to authenticate on my desktops, and if a key were ever to fail, i have a backup in the safe. The key responds to the encryption keys stored on the flash disk, and uses the serial number of the device as an added protection against copying. This is a simple setup of pam_us
    • Well if you burn your fingers on vacation then you're obviously trying to hide something from mommy-government.
      Of course there will be false negatives, arse-loads of them. They will, however, not get corrected because that would require these assclowns admitting they did something wrong. See, doing this with encryption keys, that might make an ounce of sense, but it doesn't help their real goal, which is and always has been control.
  • Great...no its on my "Do not go here - Fascism" list
    When you add that to my "do not go here, crazy people" list I basically can visit.....Bermuda?

    Stupid world...beautiful things barred from me because...
    wait a minute...
    if I ignore all of these stupid laws.
    hell yes
  • No, I mean the real reason why this is happening, not the crappy ''we must be more secure'' line that doesn't really hold water for the cost/inconvenience/loss-of-liberty that is causes? We have lived quite happyily for years without this.
    • Because we can - we shall!
    • Convince the public that we are doing this in the name of their security - and get reelected
    • Because the security crowd (bureaucrats) needs to meet it's growth formula (see 'The Law' by C Northcote Parkinson)
    • 9/11 ... errm, something to do with
  • Lessons of history (Score:4, Informative)

    by stimpleton (732392) on Monday February 11, 2008 @07:38PM (#22385246)
    When the Nazi's were setting the ground work for their "final solution", they gathered census data starting in the early 30's.

    The Hollerinth Tabulator machines streamlined the amounts of data that could be processed, thus they could ask more questions.

    Some with insight, forsaw this increase is information gathering, and altered their answers to reflect a non-jewish ancestry.

    However, they only needed 1 parent or grandparent to give the "correct" answer to link them to a Jewish ancestry(1/16th I believe).

    Similarly today, there is little we can do. We are, as we would say in New Zealand, buggered.
  • For all the people outside the EU. I'm really sorry for this fast upcoming of paranoid behaviour of the EU. But you have to know you are really a threat to global security of you bring more than 100ml of water on a plane.

    I'm really sorry. For years I think the US "security" policy sucks big time and now I see that the EU is doing the exact same thing. It really makes me sad.
  • European Eunion? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by superwiz (655733) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:46PM (#22386142) Journal
    Not exactly European Union. It says Schengen. That includes Switzerland. So Switzerland with all of its anonymous banking is going to require biometric data for people leaving and coming to the country? Why do I not think this will happen?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by LazySlacker (212444)
      Because Switzerland isn't part of Schengen?

      Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark
      Estonia, Finland, France, Germany
      Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy
      Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta
      Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal
      Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden
  • The article yesterday about electronics seizure at US airports [slashdot.org] bought out a lot of snotty, holier-than-thou trolls of European origin eager to mock the overly paranoid US airport "security" force.

    I hope this current news item forces these folks to realize that this isn't just a US problem, it's a global problem with paranoia. And until there's global political climate change, flying internationally is just going to become more and more of a hassle for everyone.
  • by wikinerd (809585) on Monday February 11, 2008 @09:49PM (#22386818) Journal

    Some people say immigration is bad because it takes jobs away from the the natives. Migration control programmes such as those discussed are very often fuelled by such fears.

    In a healthy free market economy, jobs are held by those who can contribute more to the economy for the least cost. It has been my observation that some people, once achieving some comfortable and secure lifestyle, stop innovating and become lazy sluggards, who, even if they spend 8-10 or more hours "at work", they produce little or no real tangible economic value. PHBs are a good example: While the economic contribution of a good manager is to provide sound planning and organisational design, PHBs merely walk around the office carrying a cup of tea, literally doing nothing. In theory, their contribution could become visible someday in a department or company crisis when a decision would be crucial, but my experience tells me that most PHBs would be unable to respond to any crisis in any intelligent way, and most of them stay employed thanks to connections and nepotism. The end result for the economy is great waste, inefficiency, lack of skills, and the development of a passive approach to life which hinders entrepreneurship, initiative, and innovation.

    In such an economy, where a great number of people have learnt to live their life without earning it with their ability, thanks to nepotism, status, various social structures, etc, the appearance of a few migrants can have positive effects from an economic point of view: Migrants come, some of them having useful skills, and they renovate the economy. When employers notice that the migrants have real skills and are willing to work for lower wages, they will eventually fire the lazy sluggards and force them to take a more active approach to life and learn new skills, ie to become again actively useful in the economy. In this way, migrants help counterbalance the tendency of many humans to stop innovating once they achieve some security.

    Knowing this, a certain number of migrants is not only tolerable but in fact should be highly wanted and desirable, as they have a legitimate and useful economic role to play in our economies (to wake up our lazy fellows). And it is not only highly educated migrants that should be in demand: Migrants with low education should be welcome as well, as they often help to fill gaps in an economy whose members increasingly move towards the service sector and higher-paying jobs.

    There are, of course, some dangers from the influx of huge numbers of migrants. One danger is sociological and has its basis in animal behaviour: You can see that, for example, ants are aggressive towards ants from different colonies. Similarly, humans in general do have some passive aggressiveness hidden somewhere in their mind towards persons from different nations. There is, of course, some biological basis for this, as it helps teams of humans (tribes) secure resources and maintain family lineages. But in the modern era, with our developed economies and globalised communications, we need not worry so much about these concerns that belong to the prehistory eras. What we should do is to take care to not allow this passive subconscious aggressiveness become an activated state of mind and infect the conscious mind. This can happen to most people, without them realising it, when great numbers of migrants come into a country and interact with the locals. Seeing one migrant does not raise xenophobic tendencies, but suddenly seeing a thousand migrants out of your door may cause your subconscious tribal feelings to be activated and projected to the consciousness in a variety of ways (xenophobia, racism, economic protectionism, security paranoia, etc). When this happens to the majority of a native population, the results can be disastrous. We have seen it in history and such mistakes should not be repeated by civilised people.

    So, how can we ensure that immigration results in positive economic contributions without triggering sociological problems?

  • What happens if I sand off my finger prints before I leave the country. Or get superglue all over my hands. I always thought of doing this before I ever left the country so they couldn't take any prints. Seems painful, but I like the idea of being unprintable.
  • I flew from Hong Kong to London Heatrow (HKG-LHR) on Tuesday and was horrified to find I needed to have my fingerprints taken TO RE-ENTER MY OWN COUNTRY. I have no idea why, but was too tired and jetlagged to put up much of an objection. I won't be flying into London again, and am sad to hear the trend is spreading now.

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