Tunisian biometric ID programme faces privacy challenge

15/01/18

A biometric ID card proposal has officially been withdrawn from consideration in the Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP) in Tunisia, say NGO groups.

The draft law was submitted to the Assembly of People's Representatives on 5 August 2016 was intended to replace current identity cards with cards with electronic chips containing biometric data, including cardholder fingerprints. 

Privacy advocates that opposed the card have welcomed the decision. This bill was strongly criticized by a part of the Tunisian civil society who called it an attack on the individual freedoms of citizens, and more particularly on their right to privacy as guaranteed by Article 24 of the Tunisian Constitution.

“This is a very encouraging step for democratic institutions in Tunisia,” said Wafa Ben-Hassine, Access Now’s Policy Counsel for the MENA region. “Members of the Assembly were given the opportunity to assess the law against human rights principles entrenched in the Constitution, and they stood for Tunisians’ privacy and their constitutional rights.” 

The bill has been postponed and referred again to the Committee on Rights and Freedoms to hear the arguments of Chawki Gaddes, President of the National Body for the Protection of Personal Data (INPDP).

In 2014, Tunisian officials said the country will launch an electronic ID card and move to biometric passports by the end of 2016.

The minister responsible for national security, Ridha Sfar said the issuing of electronic identity cards and biometric passports will begin at the end of 2016, reported Jawhara.

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