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Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 16:29 UK

E-borders 'causes concern'

Lucinda Adam
Lucinda Adam
The Politics Show
South East

Channel Tunnel
Data would be stored for up to 10 years

A new Government programme to monitor every person who travels in and out of Britain is causing concern for travel terminals and operators.

The e-borders programme, which recently began rolling out, will see the UK Border Agency collect detailed data from people travelling to and from the UK and storing the information for up to 10 years.

Here in the South East we have got a lot of transport terminals, like the ports of Dover, Newhaven and Sheerness, the Channel Tunnel and airports like Gatwick, Manston and Lydd.

Electronic data

Under e-borders, in addition to information stored in new biometric passports, international carriers could be obliged to provide the UK Border Agency with electronic data.

This could include addresses, telephone numbers, ticketing information and travel itinerary and even passengers' payment details.

Gatwick Airport
International travellers will have to register their details online

The scheme will also apply to seamen, leisure yachtsmen and light-aircraft pilots and even to cross-Channel swimmers and their support crews.

All will have to register their details online before their trip or face penalties of up to £5,000.

This sort of check-in system is what we are used to at airports, but usually travel through ports and international train terminals is much easier.

The Home Office says the programme will make full use of the latest technology to collect and analyse data from everyone entering or leaving the country.

Greater security

According to the home office, these measures are needed in order to transform border control to ensure greater security, effectiveness, and efficiency.

Phil Woolas - Immigration Minister
Immigration minister Phil Woolas

Immigration minister Phil Woolas said: "The travelling public won't notice much difference at all, but we need to do it in order to try and stop illegal immigration".

But transport companies and travel companies say the new requirements will cause long delays for travellers and increase costs.

They also say they have not been properly consulted on how the programme will operate.

Some opponents question whether the collecting and long-term storage of so much data infringes human rights.

A right of freedom

Conservative South East MEP Richard Ashworth is consulting the European Commission about whether the programme would contravene the right of freedom of movement laid down in European Union treaties.

The UK Border Agency has said that data would be captured from 60% of passenger and crews and checked against lists of people of interest to authorities.

By December 2010 that would increase to 95% of all travellers.

The e-borders programme is due to be fully operational by March 2014.

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