ID-Fingerprint obligation to be reviewed by European Court of Justice

The local Administrative Court of Wiesbaden (Hesse, Germany), where EDRi member Digitalcourage started legal action against the obligation for fingerprints in identity (ID) cards, submited the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

By DigitalCourage (guest author) · February 16, 2022

This court case was preceded by a long campaign by Digitalcourage against fingerprints in IDs that mobilised many people in Germany. While the new law was debated in the German parliament, Digitalcourage was invited to a hearing at its Interior Committee. The submission highlighted doubts on whether the inclusion of sensitive biometric data in IDs is compatible with fundamental rights. Still, the German law, which directly refers to the EU Regulation, was passed and came into force on 02 August 2021. Consequently a member of Digitalcourage is now taking legal action against their local authority, asking for the issuance of an ID card without fingerprints. The legal arguments prepared by Digitalcourage and its lawyer challenge the legality of the EU Regulation.

Why this EU Regulation could be unlawful

The Administrative Court of Wiesbaden has followed Digitalcourages line of argument, pointing to three reasons why the EU Regulation that created the obligation to store fingerprints could be unlawful:

  • There were formal errors in the legislative process.
  • The EU Regulation that introduced the obligation is not compatible with European fundamental rights, namely with the right to respect private and family life, and the right to the protection of personal data (Art. 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union).
  • The legislator did not conduct a privacy impact assessment, which would have been required due to the high risk involved.

The next steps

The ECJ just confirmed that the case is being processed (case number C-61/22). Next Digitalcourage as plaintiff, the EU Member States, the Commission and the Advocate General at the ECJ will be asked to submit their statements.

More information on Digitalcourage’s blog here.

Contact: Julia Witte and Konstantin Macher,

Image Credit: Ben Sweet / Unsplash, Frans Valenta

(Contribution by: Julia Witte, Communications and Media, and Sebastian Lisken, IT Admin, Translator/Interpreter, EDRi member, Digitalcourage)