The United States and Germany have announced they will share access to national criminal biometrics databases. A bilateral agreement between the two nations was intialled in Berlin yesterday.
"Terrorists who threaten our way of life see no barriers in borders between countries, neither should our efforts to stop them," said US Attorney General Michael B Mukasey.
Under the plans, police or other security officials in both countries will be able to swiftly determine whether a given fingerprint is in the other nation's database. In the event of getting a hit, they will be able to apply for the relevant information "through lawful processes that also ensure appropriate protection for personal data", according to Mukasey.
There will also be arrangements for sharing databases of "known or suspected terrorists, so we can prevent them from entering our countries and attacking on our people".
There was no word on any plan for transatlantic exchange of the famous German "scent profile" BO database, in which the personal smell signatures of known troublemakers and malcontents are stored in vials for future reference. This allows specially-trained German pong-print police sniffer dogs to identify villains merely by odour, needing no fingerprints, DNA, retinal scans, or whatever.
In the run-up to last year's G8 summit, Bundesrepublik stink-plods reportedly added large numbers of potential crusty capitalism-bashers to this aromatic database. However, there would no doubt be technical difficulties involved in any automated international niff-network hookup.
Mukasey hinted that the US-German biometric agreement could serve as a model for similar deals with other European countries. In particular, access to the UK's enormous police DNA database - much bigger than the American equivalent - would be very desirable to the US authorities.
Speculative discussions regarding a UK-US-Australia-Canada-NZ biometric hookup have been held, but there are as yet no firm plans. ®