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Tories plan electronic visa waiver for EU citizens

Pledge introduces the idea of electronic travel authorisation as part of plans to protect the UK border after Brexit

The Conservative Party has pledged to introduce a US-style electronic travel clearance scheme for European Union (EU) citizens who want to visit the UK after Brexit.

The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) would replace the current set-up whereby EU citizens only need to present their ID to enter the country.

With the ETA, the Tories expect that border officials would be able to “screen arrivals and block threats from entering the UK”.

Announcing the plans, home secretary Priti Patel said: “When people voted to leave the EU in 2016, they were voting to take back control of our borders. After Brexit, we will introduce an Australian-style, points-based immigration system and take steps to strengthen our border and improve the security of the UK.”

The plans were slammed by Labour as “groundless”, the party claiming that the UK’s departure from the EU would reduce border security because the country would no longer have access to key EU systems.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “By quitting the entire system of EU security and justice, we will no longer have real-time access to a host of critical databases or access to the European Arrest Warrant.”

Last month, it emerged that the smartphone application that enables EU citizens living in the UK to apply for settled status after Brexit was full of security flaws.

The app – which has been downloaded and used more than a million times – was found to lack basic functionality that would prevent malware from reading and stealing sensitive information, including passport details and photo identification. It also fails to use obfuscation, which can make the job of writing targeted malware harder for malicious actors.

According to a story in the Financial Times, which first reported the flaws, the app is also vulnerable to basic and generic spyware that could log what is typed into its text fields – such as addresses and phone numbers.

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