May 022011
 May 2, 2011  Posted by  Non-U.S., Surveillance

A reader submits the following:

On 27 April 2011 in a committee session of Dutch parliament it was decided to ‘temporarily’ stop the database storage of digital fingerprints for the biometric passport and ID Card.

It appeared the current state of the technique doesn’t allow proper verification (n=1) on the basis of the stored data (let alone identification). Fingerscan verification tests by the government show failure rates of 20-25%. This issue raises serious questions on a European scale about EU Regulation 2252/2004, which is at the basis of the biometric passport in Europe.

So far, two fingerprints are stored on the RFID chip in the Dutch passport AND ID card. Together with 2 extra fingerprints per person these are stored in the decentral local council’s databases. The about 6 million stored fingerscans in total will be destroyed soon.

After the change of legislation two fingerprints of all citizens above 12 years will be stored only during the production time of the (RFID chip of the) biometric passport. The national ID card will contain fingerprints only on a voluntary basis in the near future.

Dutch government repeated it still wants to store fingerprints in a central database in the future. Following questions in parliament, the Dutch government on 14 February 2011 already published an inventory (English translation in attached PDF) of the travel document registers within the European Union. 26 Countries, that is excluding The Netherlands, answered the survey. Poland and Romania didn’t answer the questions completely (partly in English).

This survey doesn’t say anything about the legality of the current collection, storage and use of biometric data within the European Union.

In order to obtain more clarity in this respect an international alliance of organisations and individuals on 31 March 2011 lodged a petition [ ], calling on the Council of Europe to start an indepth survey on the collection and storage of biometric data by the states within the Council of Europe.

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