The UK Home Office has agreed a fingerprint-sharing deal with Canada and Australia.Under the new deal the UK will be able to swap fingerprint information of foreign criminals and asylum seekers with the two countries.The US is also to join the agreement shortly and New Zealand is considering legislation to join in the near future.The deal will mean that the UK's watchlists – which fingerprints are checked against whenever someone is arrested or applies for a UK visa – are added to with information from other countries, making it easier to detect people with criminal histories in those places, as well as speed up removals, and establish previously unknown identities.Jonathan Sedgwick, deputy chief executive of the UK Border Agency, said:"This new agreement will help us identify and remove individuals whose identities were previously unknown but also improve public safety through better detection of lawbreakers and those coming to the UK for no good."For the first year of the agreement each country will be able to share 3,000 sets of fingerprints with partner countries, a number that will rise as the deal is rolled out. The UK already has a similar deal with many EU countries.The Home Office has conducted a privacy impact assessment on the deal and says it will ensure all fingerprints remain anonymous and cannot be linked to an individual unless a match is detected between countries.It will destroy fingerprints once a match has been completed without compiling a new fingerprint database, and will encrypt all exchanged information appropriately.
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