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Fri, Nov 16, 2007

Brits To Begin Collecting A LOT Of Information On Travelers

Passengers Will Need To Supply 53 Items Of Information

Take note of the following, if you're planning to travel into or out of England -- your plans are about to become a lot more complicated, and intrusive.

A plan put forth this week by the British government will require travelers entering or exiting the country to give up to 53 pieces of information to authorities, ranging from name and nationality, to credit card and license plate information, according to The Daily Mail.

The information will be collected when a ticket is purchased, and shared with police and customs officials at least 24 hours before the trip is scheduled. The security restrictions apply to air, ground, and ocean travel.

Authorities will be able to turn away suspect persons at the airport or station. Anyone with outstanding court fines or traffic tickets could also be stopped, even if they are not deemed a security risk.

Critics say the "e-borders" system will cause confusion and mayhem when it is rolled out in force, slated for mid-2009.

Even worse, the expected cost of collecting the additional information -- around $2.5 billion over the next 10 years -- will likely be passed on to customers through ticket prices, according to the paper. The government may also levy its own charge on travelers, to recoup its costs.

"We are staggered at the projected costs," said David Marshall of the Association of British Travel Agents. "It could also act as a disincentive to people wanting to travel, and we are sure that is not what the Government intends."

Information collected will be stored as long as authorities feel it is useful. A pilot program, dubbed "Project Semaphore," has already screened 29 million passengers.

"Successful trials of the new system have already led to more than 1,000 criminals being caught and more than 15,000 people of concern being checked out by immigration, customs or the police," said Immigration Minister Liam Byrne.

FMI: www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/eborders/semaphore

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