European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has overturned the 8 June decision and agreed that fingerprints as well as a facial image will be mandatory for EU passports “The Council, pending two scrutiny reservations, agreed on the inclusion of a second mandatory identifier, fingerprints, in passports and other travel documents issued by Member States. It should be noted that at its meeting on 8 June 2004, the Council agreed that facial image should be the first mandatory biometric identifier and that fingerprints should be the second and optional one. Today, 26 October, the Council also agreed to include fingerprints as a mandatory identifier.
The appropriate date of application of these biometric identifiers was also agreed by the Council. For the facial image identifier, 18 months will be required after the date of adoption of technical specifications to implement the Regulation, while 36 months will be required for fingerprints. The harmonisation of security features and the integration of biometric identifiers is an important step towards the use of new elements in the perspective of future developments at European level.
The Regulation does not apply to identity cards issued by Member States to their nationals.
The biometric features in passports and other travel documents shall be used for verifying
– the authenticity of the document
– the identity of the holder by means of directly available comparable features when the passport or other travel documents are required to be produced by law.
It seems Italy, Germany, France, Greece, Spain, Malta, Lithuania, Poland and Slovenia were in favour of adding mandatory fingerprinting. Only Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Latvia oppose move, whereas, the UK – no doubt under the instructions of BBB (Big Brother Blunkett) and Germany actually don’t think that is enough and want to have a third biometric – iris scans – in addition to facial scans and fingerprints.
Earlier this week, Privacy International had written a letter to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs asking it to resist and block the Commission’s plans for the implementation of biometric travel documents across Europe. In particular they want to prevent EU states creating centralise databases, that could be used – and abused – for more than the stated aims the EU governements are claiming.
PI makes several clear points:
The International Civil Aviation Organization ( ICAO ) standard for biometric passports does not require any form of biometric. Rather it promotes the digital storage of a facial image on the document.
There are no requirements for fingerprints or iris-scans to be involved in the ICAO standard passport.
There are no requirements for a central passport register. In fact, the ICAO is silent on central registers altogether.
Even the U.S. is not considering fingerprints in its biometric passports.
European privacy experts continue to warn against the widespread adoption of biometrics, and particularly the use of biometrics with secondary-surveillance uses and with centralised databases.
The use of biometrics for secondary purposes has led to significant travesties of justice, including most recently the Brandon Mayfield case who was detained for two weeks in association with the Madrid Bombings based on a fingerprint ‘match’, despite his innocence.
There are many other ways of ‘securing’ travel documents without establishing a global infrastructure for surveillance.
Where will it end? Why not just inject the RFID tag into all our heads now, and we don’t need to worry about any form of documents at all. According to the