Civil liberties threatened by the new centralized EU fingerprint database
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A proposal for the creation of a centralized database of fingerprints from
all 27 EU countries was included in a new European Commission document that
sets out the goals for 2008.
The fingerprints database is to be operational by the end of 2008 and it
will include sensitive information that could be shared with third parties,
such as US law enforcement authorities.
This proposal, considered as a Big Brother type of initiative, has raised
the opposition of the sceptics as well as supporters of EU being seen as a
trap of a super-state as well as a threat to civil liberties respectively.
“The European Union is gaining criminal justice powers very rapidly. The
problem is that one thing leads to another and that setting up centralised
institutions is then used as an excuse for further harmonisation of powers
which will take decisions about criminals and victims further away from
ordinary voters.” Said Neil O’Brien of Open Europe.
Baroness Ludford, a Liberal Democrat MEP, considers that this proposal rings
an alarm for civil liberties and also thinks that Brussels is “overreaching
itself.. Of course MEPs want to fight crime and terrorism, but individual
privacy must be safeguarded. We need to know who can access this database
and what the information can be used for. It is irresponsible of the
European Commission to act like this. It is doing the euro-sceptics’ job for
Brussels officials have confirmed that fact that the implementation of such
a centralised database is being studied but abstained from saying whether
the fingerprints would be shared with allies such as the US as it is now the
case with airline passenger data.
A spokesman for Franco Frattini, the EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom
and Security, confirmed the fact that this proposal is an additional project
to the voluntary sharing of fingerprint information agreed by home affairs
ministers in January and that it would be pursued as a “very important, if
not indispensable, tool in combating cross-border organised crime and
Central fingerprint database plan draws fire from all over EU (16.03.2007)