The European Commission continues to pressure for early fingerprinting

By EDRi · April 9, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

In spite of the recommendation of the European Data Protection Supervisor,
Peter Hustinx, that the minimum age for fingerprinting should be 14, a
spokesperson from the European Commission (EC) expressed on 2 April 2008 the
EC intention to push for fingerprinting children starting at the age of six,
in order to include the information in the biometric passports.

Jacques Barrot, the Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner, considered
that “The proposals we put forward are balanced ones”, explaining that
fingerprinting was an important tool in fighting human trafficking.

During the meeting on 12 February 2008 the high-level Strategic Committee on
Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA)/Mixed Committee discussed the age
at which children should be fingerprinted for visas, residence permits and
EU passports and travel documents. During a later meeting of the Visa
Working Party, on 18-19 February 2008, the large majority of delegations
agreed on the age of six and even lower “where national legislation allows
for it”. Only Germany and Austria supported the 12 years old proposal of the
European Parliament (EP).

“This Commission has set itself the standard that all its proposals should
be based on an impact assessment, including an impact assessment on privacy
and human rights,” said Hustinx adding: “This particular proposal did not
have an impact assessment, it had very limited support, and it refers to
anecdotal evidence and that’s not good enough.”

Hustinx is concerned about privacy issues but also about the quality of the
fingerprints children of six could provide for identity verification. The EC
argues that the proposals were developed coording with international
agreements, based on the International Civil Aviation Organisation
standards. Hustinx also said he believed the new trend of biometric
proposals have been made without sufficient analysis on the impact they may
have. “I’ve been struck by a continuing line of underestimation of these
problems in the context of biometrics. (…) We have rushed in biometrics,
to my feeling, to my taste, far too fast” he said.

The debate is similar to that under negotiation between the European
Parliament and the Council of Ministers which is related to the age of
children fingerprinting for visa purposes. The EP also proposed a higher
age, 12, than the EC. The result of this debate is expected to apply also to

“Thanks to the co-decision powers of MEPs on these matters, the Commission
and Council cannot just ignore us,” said Parliament’s lead MEP on visas, UK
Liberal Sarah Ludford who added: “But they would be ill-advised to try to
push forward without much more independent study and public debate on
whether there is a genuine need for fingerprinting young children.”

Commission stands firm on biometric passports (3.04.2008)

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council
amending Council Regulation (EC) No. 2252/2004 on standards for security
features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member
States (6.02.2008)

EDPS Opinion on biometrics in passports: exemptions welcomed but
unsatisfactory (26.03.2008)

EDRI-gram: Biometric data from non-EU travellers (13.02.2008)