NEW YORK -- Some visa-waiver countries in the European Union
reportedly could soon be issuing passports and visas with implanted
computer chips containing eye scan or digital fingerprint data,
under a plan that the EU adopted Friday.
The EU action doesn't commit members to an implementation
deadline, but Congress mandated that visa-waiver countries --
including Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein,
Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United
Kingdom -- adopt biometric technology for passports by Oct. 26,
The EU plan commits about $164 million to studying which
biometric option is optimal because it said "a coherent approach is
needed on biometric identifiers."
The International Civil Aviation Organization in May selected
computerized facial recognition as the best-suited biometric method
for identifying air travelers worldwide.
Meanwhile, a report from the Travel Industry Association found
that overseas arrivals to the U.S. dropped last year, continuing a
trend that was first identified 10 years ago.
Arrivals from the top visitor markets to the U.S. were down 5%
in 2002 compared with the prior year.
However, TIA's "Market Share Indicator" report noted that
arrivals in 2001 were also down 12%.
The sluggish world economy and international turmoil played a
role in suppressing interest in travel last year, the TIA said.
Visitor arrivals to the U.S. have declined 37% since 1992, the