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France: Creation of an Automated Border Control System

(Nov. 22, 2010) Decree 2010-1274 of October 25, 2010, creates an automatic personal data processing system referred to as PARAFE, Passage Rapide aux Frontières Extérieures (Automated Fast-Track Crossing at External Borders) to decrease the cost of border control and the waiting time and to improve the identification of persons in order to facilitate the fight against terrorism and illegal immigration. Registration in the system is voluntary. (Décret 2010-1274 du 25 octobre 2010 portant création d'un traitement automatisé de données à caractère personnel dénommé PARAFE, LEGIFRANCE online database, http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr [File: Les autres textes législatifs et réglementaires].) It replaces the system PARAFES (Automated Fast-Track Crossing at External Schengen Borders), which was launched as an experiment in 2009.

The Decree states that the system is “aimed at air, sea, and rail passengers who voluntarily register” for it. The persons who are eligible for registration are those over 18 years old who are citizens of the European Union or of other countries that signed the Treaty on the European Economic Area (EEA) or of the Swiss Confederation, as well as their spouses from foreign countries. (Id.art. 1.) In addition, even if they have not registered for the PARAFE program, persons over 18 years old who are citizens of the European Union or of other countries that signed the Treaty on the European Economic Area (EEA) or of the Swiss Confederation may still benefit from it if they hold a “biometric” passport that conforms to EU Regulation 2252/2004 of December 13, 2004 (id. art 7).

The personal data recorded in the PARAFE system include: a fingerprint of eight fingers; name (surname, if any, and first name); date of birth; place of birth; nationality as recorded on the passport; and address (optional). As for the passenger registration, the following data are kept: registration number, date and time of registration, and expiration date of the passport or any other documents authorized in place of a passport (id. art 2). Personal data are kept in the system for five years. Passengers may withdraw from the system at any time and, in such cases, the data are immediately erased (id. art. 3). The data can only be accessed by border police or customs agents (id. art. 4).

Passengers who benefit from the PARAFE program only need to present a machine-readable passport at an automated kiosk and place a finger on the fingerprint reader. The process only takes 30 seconds. If the passenger does not have readable passport, the registration service may provide him or her with a pass card. (Arrêté du 25 octobre 2010 pris pour l'application du décret n° 2010-1274 du 25 octobre 2010 portant création d'un traitement automatisé de données à caractère personnel dénommé PARAFE [Regulation of October 25, 2010, implementing Decree No. 2010-1274] Legifrance online legal database, http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr [File: Les autres textes législatifs et réglementaires].)