NGO calls for EU to drop fingerprints ID card plan

11/06/18

Civil liberties organisation Statewatch has rejected European Commission plans for the mandatory inclusion of two fingerprints in ID cards.

The EC said this a plan for the mandatory inclusion of biometrics (two fingerprints and a facial image) in all EU Member States’ identity cards is needed “in order to further increase effectiveness in terms of security.” 

In a statement, Statewatch said there has been no attempt by the Commission to demonstrate the necessity or proportionality of the proposal, despite this being a requirement for any EU measure that infringes upon fundamental rights.

The group said the Commission’s own impact assessment recommended that excluding mandatory fingerprinting from the proposals was the most “efficient and proportional” policy option available. 

Some 370 million people will be affected by the measure – almost 85% of the EU’s 440 million citizens. Those 370 million people are all the EU’s “potential ID card holders”, 175 million of whom would be subject to a new obligation to provide fingerprints for ID cards.

"The Commission’s only attempt to justify this infringement of the right to privacy (aside from warnings that poor document security 'hampers the free movement of citizens and undermines security within borders') is that the 'inclusion of two biometric identifiers (facial image, fingerprints) will improve the identification of persons,' and align the security levels of various types of document issued to both EU and non-EU citizens, " wrote the group.

Chris Jones, a researcher at Statewatch, said: “Measures to enhance peoples’ ability to move freely within the EU and that genuinely seek to address terrorism and organised crime are, in principle, to be welcomed. However, there is no link between these two aspirations and the compulsory fingerprinting of 85% of the EU population.

“The proposal for the mandatory inclusion of fingerprints in national ID cards is irrelevant and unjustified, and should be rejected by the European Parliament and the Council when they begin discussing the Commission’s proposals.” 

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