- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The French government has fingerprinted U.S. journalists who will travel with President Obama to France for the G-8 summit next week.

Journalists were required to submit to “biometric” fingerprinting at the French Embassy in Washington, an embassy spokesman confirmed. The requirement raised some eyebrows among the White House press corps, whose members did not undergo the same security measures for Mr. Obama’s trip to Latin America in March.

Luis Vassy, an embassy spokesman, said his government implemented the new requirement in January. “There are no exceptions to biometrics fingerprinting for regular visa applicants,” Mr. Vassy said. “It is also my understanding that French journalists coming to the U.S. go through a similar process, that includes also fingerprinting, both for the visa application and at the entry port.”

The United States and France are reciprocating members in a visa-waiver program, meaning that each nation’s citizens can travel to the other country without the need to apply for a visa for up to 90 days. All visa-waiver travelers must have a biometric passport, which includes fingerprinting.

In the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, Congress mandated the use of biometrics in U.S. visas. American embassies and consulates abroad must issue to travelers machine-readable, tamper-resistant visas that use biometric identifiers.The U.S. government has decided to require 10 fingerprint scans of visitors.

The U.S. government, however, has yet to implement a biometric system that can track those leaving the country, and the technology of biometrics has raised concerns in some quarters about the potential for identity theft.

The G-8 meeting will be held May 26-27 in Deauville, France.

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