Plans for 'deeper collaboration' and a touchless border for Five Eyes citizens

12:22 pm on 23 October 2022
Visa and passport to  approved stamped on a document top view in Immigration

Photo: 123RF

Theft of knowledge and know-how from universities and research institutes by foreign nationals is a growing concern, security experts warn.

The warning came at an annual meeting of security and immigration ministers from the Five Eyes countries -

the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK - at a meeting in Washington DC last month.

And a technology plan from the M5 alliance showed it was aiming for a "touchless border" for its citizens by 2030.

A joint communiqué said enhanced border protections and the fight against cyber attacks were among its priorities.

Other joint work included countering violent extremism, trafficking and foreign interference.

They pledged to establish deeper collaboration for emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction as well as to combat child sex exploitation.

The communiqué said the alliance was working collectively to deter abuse of Interpol systems and other global safety tools, and to focus on intellectual property theft.

"We condemn efforts aimed at the unwanted transfer of intellectual property and that seek to exploit our immigration systems and institutions to gain access to sensitive information," it said.

"This practice of using assets to perform covert acquisition of sensitive and protected information in academia and research and development sectors must be addressed. Building on last year's commitment, we will continue to expand our collaboration to reduce the threat in these areas."

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) was approached for comment by RNZ, but did not respond.

The Five Countries Ministerial (FCM) meeting, which governs the B5M5 or Migration 5 network, also said it was working together on its position on Interpol and deterring abuse of the global policing system.

"We will continue to deepen the cooperation of our law enforcement institutions and officials to work together and share tools and capabilities to prevent child sexual offences and bring perpetrators to justice.

"The ministers discussed the need to partner to expand lawful pathways for regular migration, thereby fulfilling critical labour needs and addressing disadvantaged persons' hope for a better life.

"Following recommendations from a feasibility study, a central repository system for Hash Sharing between the Five countries will be developed. We will engage with international partners to share learning from this work."

Touchless border and data sharing

It also affirmed the countries' joint views on the social and economic benefits of immigration.

"We acknowledge the importance of ensuring access to safe, lawful, and orderly immigration pathways as a means to address irregular migration. We encourage each Five Country partner to identify and strengthen pathways that best suit their domestic landscapes - whether based on family reunification, economic prosperity, or international protection."

A briefing to immigration minister Michael Wood said the FCM had developed over recent years into an "increasingly active body" on national security-related issues.

A statement from the US Office of Information and Technology this year showed the B5M5's 2020-2024 technology strategy's "efforts to provide scalable, efficient, cost-effective technology that enables continuous and secure access to data across members".

"The forum continues to work together to develop a Five Eyes Technology Collaboration Strategy to leverage each other's investments, develop fit-for-purpose emerging technologies, and build information-sharing capabilities on the six technologies. These include digitalisation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, biometrics, data analytics, augmented and virtual reality, and distributed ledger (blockchain) technology.

"The Border of the Future Strategic Plan, which calls for the B5M5 to implement a Touchless Border by 2030, guides this strategy.

"It ensures a seamless traveller continuum among members. The strategy document identifies emerging technologies that countries can leverage in their pursuit of a Touchless Border, establishes common standards to facilitate better data-sharing and systems integration, and pinpoints key trends, threats, and common resolutions the information and technology offices of each B5M5 agency will face over the coming year."

It is aiming to create a "single window" through which partner countries can view each other's immigration and customs data sets.

As of 2020, INZ said there were no plans to expand sharing of immigration data to Interpol, but it would not comment on future plans for international data sharing.

At present it can ask its partners for facial, fingerprints and biographical data.

New Zealand hosts the permanent M5 Secretariat, and the alliance holds meetings throughout the year.

M5 Working Groups typically hold monthly meetings and the M5 governance groups also hold regular meetings, including an annual conference.

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