EU might fingerprint children even before 12 years old
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The report from the EU Council Presidency meeting of 26 June 2006 proposes
that all children in the European Union should be mandatory fingerprinted if
they are over 12 years old. “If provided for by national legislation” this
action could be extended to all children, even below 12 years of age.
The Council is putting under discussion fingerprints as compulsory for EU
passports in order to prevent passport fraud. The decision will be taken in
a secret meeting of a committee made of representatives of the 25
governments and chaired by the European Commission.
The text proposed by the EU Council says that a member state can establish
the age limit as low as they want and after 12, this process is mandatory.
It will mean taking a biometric identifier from children at an “enrolment
The same document also proposes the “scanning of the facial image” from 0 to
12 of age with storage in a chip according to the national legislation and
compulsory after 12, for EU passports.
The scanning and storage on a “chip” means “digitising” the normal passport
picture sent by post, not requiring the presence of the child. Reports say
that small children are not suitable for “biometric face recognition by
means of a photograph”.
The same issues are valid for fingerprints. The scientific studies have
shown that below the age of 6, fingerprints are not developed enough for
The UK, meanwhile, stated that it had encountered no special problems in
collecting fingerprints from five-year-old asylum seekers. The tests were
carried out at 2 asylum centres in London and Liverpool and were meant to
prevent multiple registration for extra-benefits.
The different approaches of the member states on this matter was highlighted
also during the June meeting of the Visa Working Party. For instance,
Germany stated that the national legislation was stipulating the age of 14
for biometric data for German nationals but was in favour of a
differentiated approach and wished to go down to the age of 6 for visa
applicants. The UK delegation said that storing facial image “(at any age)”
was a security measure “even if it can not be used for facial recognition”
and stated that it could go down to 5 years old for fingerprinting, based on
the tests carried out in asylum centres. The Netherlands gave the age of 6
for taking fingerprints while Sweden also stated it could agree with the age
of 6 for passports.
According to Statewatch editor Tony Bunyan, the discussions in the EU
related to the minimum age for fingerprinting are just related to technical
possibilities and have nothing to do with whether this is right or wrong
from the moral or political standpoint. He stated these decisions are made
in secret meetings on the basis of secret documents, and do not take into
consideration the opinions of people and parliaments. Also, that with this
proposal, EU states will be given the freedom to fingerprint children from
the day they are born provided they have the necessary technology for that.
EU states will be free to fingerprint children from day one of their life as
soon as it is technologically possible (07.2006)
Report from the EU Council Presidency meeting (26.07.2006)
Report from the Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee(13-14.06.2006)
Millions of children to be fingerprinted (30.07.2006)
Asylum toddlers get fingerprinted (15.05.2006)
EDRI-gram : EU governments want 2 biometric identifiers for every citizen