Romania ranked the 8th worst for collection of traveler data, study says
Comparitech has published a study into traveler data collection across 50 countries and it might interest you to know that Romania was ranked the 8th worst for collection of traveler data.
The authors of the study looked at 7 main categories of data collection and storage including visa requirements, airport data collection, visa requirements, biometric data and storage periods.
Not only does the data collection infringe on privacy but history has taught us that Government’s aren’t always up to the task of keeping the sensitive data they store safe.
Top 10 worst countries for collective traveler data
- The United States = 18.5/69: All visa applicants are required to submit fingerprints for US visas, with only 39 countries allowed to travel without a visa. Fingerprints of everyone entering and leaving the US are also taken. These biometrics are kept for 75 years (or until they’re no longer needed), while advanced passenger information is stored for 15 years and visa applications for seven years. Photos taken upon arrival in the US may only be stored for several hours or a maximum of 14 days. However, if you’re classed as an “in-scope” passenger, your mugshot could be stored for as long as 75 years. The US is also involved in the Five Country Joint Enrollment and Information-Sharing Project (FCC), EU PNR System, and INTERPOL data-sharing agreements. The US uses an interactive advanced passenger information system to keep track of travelers entering the country.
- The United Kingdom = 21/69: In the UK, visa applicants must submit their fingerprints for a UK visa and these will be checked upon arrival at UK borders. Gatwick Airport was the first UK airport to begin using iris scans in 2019. Over 110 countries require a visa for the UK and the information processed on the Borders, Immigration, and Citizenship System may be kept for 15 years (or 25 years if granted naturalization/settlement). Passenger Name Records and Advanced Passenger Information are kept for 10 years. Like the US, the UK is also part of the FCC, EU PNR, and INTERPOL data-sharing agreements.
- Australia = 22/69: Australia is another country that’s part of the aforementioned data-sharing agreements. All countries bar New Zealand require a visa to enter the country and fingerprints (4 minimum) are required upon entry. Visa application records may be kept for up to 15 years while all passenger movement records have been stored since 1981. PNR details are kept for 5 years as they are governed by EU law.
- China = 23.5/69: Even though China is only part of the INTERPOL data-sharing agreement, it still lacks points. This is due to fingerprints being a requirement for visa applications and upon arrival in airports. The majority of countries also require a visa to travel to China (only a small few are exempt for short stays or stopovers). Photos of travelers arriving in China’s airports are taken and there are minimal protections in place for all of this collected data. The Chinese Visa Application Center states that they can keep application data for seven years and biometrics for five (but may keep longer if they can’t delete it due to “legal reasons”). However, all of this information is transferred to embassies, consulates, and the governments, too, where it may be kept indefinitely.
- France = 24.5/69: France scores one point less than the rest of our European countries due to its use of an interactive advanced passenger information system. Standard (non-interactive) advanced passenger information systems transmit passenger data in one bulk message upon departure or following flight reconciliation, whereas interactive systems allow two-way, real-time communication and on a passenger-by-passenger basis.
- Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden = 25.5/69: All of these EU (and Schengen) countries tie in sixth place (with the addition of Canada) as they all require fingerprints for visa applications and share this data via the Schengen Information System. Fingerprints are also a requirement for Canada (at the border and in visas) and it is part of the FCC, EU PNR, and INTERPOL data-sharing agreements (but not the Schengen system). 107 countries require a tourist visa for the countries in Europe, while Canada requires almost 150 countries to acquire a visa for entry. As for storage periods, the European countries listed above store both PNR and biometric data for 5 years. In Canada, Passenger Name Records are stored for 3.5 years while biometrics are stored for 15 years. Canada also uses an interactive API system while the rest of the countries listed just use a standard API system.
- Bulgaria = 26/69: Even though Bulgaria follows a very similar structure to the EU (Schengen) countries listed above (storing PNR and biometric data for 5 years under EU law and sharing this data through the EU PNR and Schengen Information System, for example), it also has some requirements that differ from those ranked in 6th place. Fingerprints are only required ‘if applicable’ or in certain cases, only 29 countries can get visa-free access to Bulgaria, and proof of purpose of travel (including an invitation from friends/family/work permit) is also required.
- Romania = 26.5/69: Romania also has noticeable links with the EU/Schengen area by storing data for 5 years and being part of the SIS and EU PNR system. However, Romania only requires fingerprints from certain countries and travelers must provide proof of flight booking and occasionally a proof of health declaration.
- Ireland = 27/69: Ireland isn’t a Schengen country but is part of the Schengen Information System. It is also part of the EU PNR System and INTERPOL. Over 100 countries require a visa to enter Ireland with those from Nigeria, China, India, Pakistan, and Hong Kong having to submit their fingerprints with their visa application. As Ireland is governed by EU law, it has a maximum data retention period on this data of 5 years.
- New Zealand = 27.5/69: New Zealand is the fifth (and final) country to be part of the FCC agreement (but it isn’t part of the EU PNR agreement, unlike Australia). The majority of countries require a visa to travel to New Zealand. 59 countries are exempt but still require an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) which requires passport details. Not everyone will have to submit fingerprints for their visa application but those who do can have their fingerprints checked again upon arrival in New Zealand. When it comes to the information stored, NZ keeps passenger record details for 3 years, advanced passenger information for 5 years, visa applications for 2 years, and biometrics for 50 years.