May 062010
 May 6, 2010  Posted by  Court, Non-U.S., Surveillance

There have been a few stories recently mentioning concerns about Dutch passports and the database of fingerprints for passports. One story (only poorly translated by free online translators) suggests that a privacy group, Privacy First, is taking the government to court over the use of the stored fingerprints for criminal investigatory and not just passport purposes, which they seem to allege violates laws set by the European Parliament.

A second story raises other concerns — that many of the fingerprints are mismatched to their owners and that Dutch citizens might erroneously be tagged as terrorists, etc.
That story is at if any bilingual reader would care to translate it and tell me whether I’ve summarized it accurately.

The second story, also from Radio Netherlands, is in English and was published in March. It reports that the Socialist MP , Mr Van Raak, “warned that innocent people are at risk of being misidentified as criminals or even terrorists. Apparently, six percent of fingerprints kept by the police are incorrect.”

Thanks to the reader who sent in the link to the first story.

  3 Responses to “What’s going on with Dutch passports?”

  1. Here’s a translation

    “A Dutch privacy organisation has taken the government to court for storing the fingerprints of passport holders. According to the organisation this violates European privacy rules.

    According to the organisation Privacy First the fingerprints can be stored separate from the passport and used for criminal investigation. The European Parliament explicitly intended to prevent this. The Dutch passport law has recently been amended for storage of fingerprints.

    According to the complain, the Netherlands will go much further than other European countries, like Germany, where the law explicitly states that fingerprints may not be used for other purposes.

    Electronic chip

    De EU has decided last year that fingerprints and a photo will be integrated into the passport. Europe hopes to stem the use of fake passports and of stolen passports. Passport checks will be made easier by making it faster to confirm the travel document and the traveler.

    The European Parliament has subjected the law to strict checks and balances. The passport may really only be used for the verification of the passport.

    National government
    According to the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs, the EU has delegated to the member states the extent to which fingerprints are stored and used. Other member states are allegedly planning to use the fingerprints for law enforcement purposes as well. Privacy First points out that former Minister of the Interior Guusje ter Horst specifically referred to the possibility that the prints will be used to track criminals and terrorists.

    According to the organisation, this is in violation of European privacy laws. The organisation thinks the new passport law should be invalidated by the judge.”

    Elections will be held in early June, so who knows what will happen. The forecast suggests that there will be a rightward shift, which is driven by a strong anti-immigration sentiment. We’ll have to see if this will actually be an issue during the elections, but the new government will likely not change this policy.

  2. Thank you soooo much!

  3. “Graag gedaan!” Thanks for the great website and let me know if you need any other help.

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