Friday, 25 April 2008 12:00 AM
Controversy has erupted over the US proposal to require airlines and cruise ship companies to fingerprint foreign nationals leaving the country.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Tuesday that it may expect the private sector to collect fingerprints and submit travel information to the government within 24 hours.
Airlines and privacy groups have spoken out against this proposed outsourcing of security, CNN reports.
Following the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks the DHS has progressively introduced a programme called US-VISIT, designed to monitor foreign nationals entering the US.
The US Congress has imposed a June 2009 deadline for the DHS to begin fingerprinting departing as well as arriving visitors, in order to identify people who overstay their visa.
Congress has threatened to remove the current Visa Waiver Programme, allowing the citizens of 27 countries including the UK to enter the US without applying for a visa, if the deadline is not met.
An International Air Transport Association (IATA) spokesman expressed concern over the cost of the new proposal, which the IATA estimates at $3.5 billion (Â£1.8 billion) over ten years.
The DHS estimates the cost at $2.7 billion and said the government would carry part of the cost.