The French Government goes against CNIL in biometric passports

By EDRi · May 21, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

Ignoring the opinion of the French Data Protection Authority – the National
Commission for Information and Liberties (CNIL), on 4 May 2008, the French
Government passed a decree on the basis of which the French citizens will
have biometric passports that will include eight fingerprints and a digital
picture. The data will be introduced in a large national database.

Although symbolical, CNIL’s opinion should have been published alongside
with such a decree in the Official Journal. The Government’s decree went
against CNIL’s unfavourable opinion given on 11 December 2007 which was
published a week after the decree. Alex Türk, president of CNIL reinforced
the commission’s position on 16 May 2008, on the occasion of the
presentation of the annual report of the commission.

“We haven’t been heard on two issues: first, we believe such an important
subject should go to the Parliament and the, we have not obtained the
elements allowing the justification of creating this database” said Alex

The commission considers that the biometric passport does not seem to be a
useful tool in fighting document fraud and that the targets proposed by the
government of issuing, replacing or withdrawing passports as well as
detecting and preventing document falsification “do not justify the
retention, at the national level, of biometric data such as fingerprints”
and, therefore, the creation of such a database is a disproportionate

CNIL also draws the attention on the fact that the decree goes even beyond
the European regulation which has in view only two fingerprints and says
nothing about preserving the information into a central database. The system
involves “risks of serious damages to private life and individual liberties”
in the commission’s opinion.

CNIL reinforces its opposition to the biometric passport (only in French,

Biometric passports: unfavourbale opinion from CNIL (only in French,

Biometric passports: CNIL against central database (only in French,

CNIL Opinion on biometric passports (only in French, 11.12.2007)