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04BRUSSELS2586 2004-06-17 13:03:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Brussels
Cable title:  

U.S.-EU JOINT MISSION TO INTERPOL ON LOST/STOLEN

Tags:   CPAS KFRD KCRM EUN USEU BRUSSELS 
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BRUSSELS 002586 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR CA/PPT - ABARRETT; EUR/ERA - RBOLY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CPAS KFRD KCRM EUN USEU BRUSSELS
SUBJECT: U.S.-EU JOINT MISSION TO INTERPOL ON LOST/STOLEN
PASSPORTS

REF: (A) BRUSSELS 2487 (B) STATE 100029



1. (SBU) Summary. During consultations in Brussels on 6/9
and a subsequent joint mission to Interpol headquarters in
Lyon on 6/10, the U.S. and EU ironed out some of the
remaining wrinkles in plans to share information on lost and
stolen passports through Interpol. An EU Common Position,
expected to be approved 6/18, will oblige all Member States
to immediately begin transferring current and future data on
lost/stolen passports to Interpol. The EU will require
reciprocity for Interpol to share this data with other
countries. The joint mission discussed technical issues aimed
at improving verification, feedback, data privacy and data
protection. Expanding access to Interpol's database at ports
of entry worldwide will increase its utility. End Summary.



--------------------------


EU Prepares to Adopt Common Position on Lost/Stolen Passports


--------------------------





2. (SBU) On 6/9, European Commission (EC) officials briefed
Managing Director for Passport Services Ann Barrett, Senior
Passport Operations Officer Michael Holly and PRMOff on the
draft EU Council Common Position regarding the transfer of
lost/stolen passport data to Interpol. The draft received
unanimous support at the EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA)
Council earlier that day and should formally be adopted by
the EU on 6/18. The Common Position provides a legal
basis -- as well as an obligation -- for EU Member States to
transfer all present and future data on lost and stolen
passports to Interpol immediately after the passport data is
sent to the Schengen Information System (SIS) and/or the
national database. Currently, only seven EU Member States
provide passport data to Interpol. According to JHA
Administrator for Police Cooperation Jacques Verraes, when
the upgraded version of the SIS comes online in 2007 the
function of transferring passport data to Interpol will be
assumed by the EC. SIS-2 will have the legal and technical
capabilities to automatically transfer data on lost and
stolen passports.



--------------------------


Interpol Provides Conduit for Information Exchange


--------------------------





3. (SBU) In his opening remarks to the joint U.S.-EU mission
on 6/10, Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said that
the decision by the U.S. and EU to submit data on lost and
stolen passports to Interpol will greatly increase the
utility of its Stolen Travel Document database. Operational
since September 2002, the Interpol database currently
consists of 1.5 million records from 41 countries, including
approximately 306,000 records from the U.S. Noble noted that
on 6/9 the G8 called for its members to contribute their
records on blank passports to the database by the end of


2004.



4. (SBU) Noble stressed the advantages of exchanging data
through Interpol by describing its global communication
system (I-24/7), which allows 106 countries to continuously
send and receive information, as well as the Command and
Control Center staffed round the clock with multi-lingual
personnel. Noble welcomed the EU's draft Common Position and
said that the Interpol database could handle receiving the
8.5 million records of stolen/lost documents currently in the
SIS. JHA Head of Unit for Large Scale Information Systems
Frank Paul clarified that the 8.5 million figure includes
national identity cards and drivers licenses, but that the
number of passports was probably several
million.



5. (SBU) According to Interpol, its travel document database
has only generated 149 hits so far this year. This low
number is attributed to a lack of access at ports of entry
and by national officials other than
the NCBs. Once the database is routinely queried by POEs and
elsewhere, the number of hits is expected to rise quickly.
Interpol said that within three months an interim solution
could be found to expand connectivity to ports of entry
(contingent on approximately 100,000 euros for technical
improvements). This connectivity will be piloted in the US.
A more permanent solution could be reached by 2005 and cost
nearly a million euros. The EU Common Position stipulates
that "Member States shall ensure that their police
authorities will query the Interpol database for the purpose
of this Common Position each time when appropriate for the
performance of their task. Member States will ensure that
they set up the infrastructures required to facilitate
on-line consultation at the latest by December 2004."



--------------------------


Ironing Out the Details


--------------------------





6. (SBU) Major points covered during the consultations in
Brussels and Lyon on stolen/lost passports are as follows:

-- Scope of data: At Noble's request, the U.S. and EU said
they would be receptive to contributing data on both blank
and issued passports to the database. He said that the date
and location of the theft/loss was also important. Barrett
said that although this data was not recorded in CLASP, the
Department could consider modifying its current procedures.


-- Reciprocity: The EU will demand reciprocity by only
allowing Interpol to share EU-originated data with other
members which provide similar information to Interpol and
which give the EU access to it. The EU intends to sign an
"appropriate instrument" with Interpol headquarters and with
other contributing countries to ensure reciprocity.
According to Verraes, for the U.S. this could be accomplished
with a simple exchange of notes and does not have to be an
elaborate, legally binding instrument. (Note. The EU wants
to guarantee that countries which sign a reciprocity
agreement update the database in a timely and consistent
manner -- not an issue with the U.S. End Note.) Barrett
stated that the U.S. restricts its data only to the five
officially listed state sponsors of terrorism and said the
U.S. hopes in this way to lead by example. Noble said he
would remind countries at the upcoming general assembly in
October that if they query the database they should also
contribute data. Barrett also mentioned that the U.S.
intends to demarche all Interpol members to encourage them to
share passport data.

-- Data Protection: The EU will require an "adequate level
of protection of the personal data concerned" in its
agreements with third countries. According to JHA Special
Assistant Luigi Soreca, this will involve a very low
qualitative threshold because it relates to third pillar data
protection for law enforcement purposes (which virtually all
of the 182 Interpol members currently meet). Soreca and Paul
both mentioned that data protection issues were essential for
gaining political support for the initiative from EU Member
States. Both the U.S. and EU expressed some concern about
the possibility of "data mining" by certain governments. To
guard against this, Interpol allows border officials to check
only one document at a time. If NCBs submit large series of
numbers for checks, Interpol only provides the first ten
responses. Interpol said that national security officers are
also able to monitor, audit and analyze inquiry patterns.

-- Data Privacy: The EC expressed some data privacy
reservations, including retention periods and rights of
redress by the traveling public. Regarding data retention,
Interpol explained that the default purge date is set at five
years. Before the period expires, the contributing state
will be notified and asked whether the information is still
relevant or whether it should be purged from the system.
Interpol noted that contributors are also given the option to
set their own expiration dates (e.g., the UK currently uses
10 years after the date the passport was issued). Interpol
also explained that citizens could file a "freedom of
information" type request, but that Interpol would ask
permission from the contributing state before providing
information on file. If incorrect data has been entered into
the Interpol database, only the contributing government may
request its alteration or deletion (not the private citizen
or another government).

-- Feedback and Verification: Barrett stated that the top
USG concern relates to Interpol members sharing immediate
feedback on hits, particularly if they involve American
citizens being stopped by border officials. The EC also
expressed concern about malicious reporting of stolen
documents and inaccuracy of data entry resulting in
legitimate travelers being stopped. Interpol explained that
each hit generates an automatic alarm message which states,
"Do not take any police action before contact is made with
the relevant NCB." The EU Common Position makes verification
mandatory before action is taken by national officials in the
EU. Barrett suggested customized wording to accelerate the
verification process. If the automated message requested
specific information which only a legitimate passport holder
could answer (i.e., mother's maiden name, father's birth
date, social security number, etc.), the verification process
would be expedited. Interpol said that this was technically
feasible and they would explore this possibility further.
When asked about system down time, Interpol explained that
the database is replicated and that if one system should go
down, an error report is generated and when the database is
queried again the request is automatically routed to the
back-up for response.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





7. (SBU) The joint mission to Interpol was useful in moving
the information exchange on stolen/lost passports forward, as
well as enhancing the transatlantic dialogue on border and
transportation security. Success in this information sharing
effort could build confidence and lead to other initiatives
with the EU. CA/PPTs consultations in Brussels also allowed
the EU to update the Department on other relevant topics such
as including biometrics in EU passports (reftel a) and the
effects of enlargement on the movement of American citizens
in the Schengen area. At Interpol, the U.S.'s decision to
quickly hand over passport data compared favorably to the
EU's internal plodding. Though slower, the EU's Common
Position should ultimately result in an additional 18
countries contributing to Interpol's Stolen Travel Document
database.

(CA/PPT has cleared on this cable.)

SCHNABEL