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Interpols new computer system

Associated Press | 02.10.2003 09:45 | Repression | Technology | World


Interpol Plans Anti-Terrorism Database

Associated Press Writer

September 29, 2003, 2:39 PM EDT

BENIDORM, Spain -- Interpol is working to complete a new global database that will help its 181 member countries fight terrorism and other crime, the secretary general of the international police agency said Monday.

Seventy-eight countries participate in the agency's database, an Internet-based system that provides direct access to Interpol files. By Dec. 31, the agency hopes to finish the project so all its members can send and retrieve real-time data, Secretary General Ronald Noble said.

The system allows police agencies to have direct access to Interpol data, Noble, a former U.S. Treasury Department undersecretary for enforcement, told reporters.

The database "will permit us to do something today that we weren't able to do two, three, four or five years ago," he said at the start of Interpol's annual conference.

More than 500 delegates were attending the four-day assembly at the Gran Hotel Bali in Benidorm, in eastern Spain. The hotel lobby was decorated with headless mannequins in police uniforms and a remote-controlled vehicle of the typed used by Spain to defuse car bombs.

Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes opened the assembly with a call for greater international cooperation against terrorists increasingly savvy with technology.

"We must be firm," Acebes said. "When it comes to terrorism, there is no room for weakness."

Noble said a major focus of Interpol is the theft of blank passports. "That is the most valuable tool for a terrorist because it has all the security features. The only thing the terrorist needs to do is add his or her name and photograph."

Interpol, based in Lyon, France, has created a database of these documents, and since early this year the number of countries taking part in the project has risen from two to 29 and the number of passports in the information pool has gone from 3,000 to 250,000.

One country that Noble declined to name has reported the theft of more than 50,000 blank passports.

"Now, think about that -- the amount of opportunity that represents for terrorists," he said.

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