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UK suspends online visa facility to India

Personal data of thousands of Indians have been compromised, prompting UK to order a probe into the security lapse.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, London
UPDATED ON MAY 20, 2007 02:35 AM IST

Britan has suspended its online visa application facility from India after personal data of thousands of Indians was compromised, prompting the government to order a probe into the security lapse.

Four hundred and seventy thousand Indians applied for visas to come to Britain last year and around 50,000 had applied online.

According to a report telecast by Britain's Channel 4, the internet visa applications had some serious security lapse, which made personal details of 50,000 online applicants freely available on line.

Britain's opposition Conservative Party has expressed concern that this security breach was open to being exploited by terrorists.

Terming it as an "Indian Visa Fiasco", the Shadow immigration minister, Damian Green, said," this may have been a treasure trove for international terrorists."

The British Information Commissioner, the government's data privacy watchdog, is probing into the lapse, an official said on Saturday. The Commissioner has demanded a 'full explanation' from the Foreign Office.

The Channel reported that one of the applicants noticed the lapse in April last year. Visa processing in India has been contracted out by the Foreign Office to a private Indian company, VFS Global.

The applicant alerted the company as well as the British High Commission in India.

After the revelations, Britain has suspended its online visa applications not only in India but also in Russia and Nigeria, the official said. The services were provided by the same company VFS.

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