The road to "1984" Part 2 - EU: Everyone will have to have their fingerprints taken to get a passport

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- everyone wanting a passport will have to "enrol" and have a digitised picture taken which is then stored on a microchip in the passport

- a centralised, biometric-based, "European Passport Register" will be set up and then it will become compulsory for everyone to give their fingerprints too

- all EU citizens holding passports, every resident third country national and everyone visiting the EU with a visa will have their personal biometric "identifiers" plus personal data stored on the new generation Schengen Information System (SIS II)

- all ID cards should also contain biometric data

- this will enable the wholesale surveillance of all movement not just into the EU but within the EU too

For EU citizens getting a passport is quite straightforward, you fill in the form, get your picture taken in a photo booth and simply post both to the passport office. This simple process is about to change: to get a passport you will have to present yourself to an "enrolment centre" where a special picture will be taken of you and then you will have to have your fingerprints taken. These will then be held on a European database with personal data.

On 18 February the European Commission adopted a proposal for a binding Regulation to bring in biometric personal data - a facial image with an option for fingerprints as a second identifier - on all EU passports. Everyone wanting a passport will have to "enrol" in "enrolment centres" (the term makes it sound like a voluntary step) where their pictures will be taken with special cameras. These "pictures" will be digitised and made into a template which will be put onto a microchip in the passport (which may be a paper passport or a plastic card). These "pictures" and identifying personal data will be placed on national databases which can be accessed by law enforcement agencies (police, customs, immigration and internal security agencies). In stage 2 a "European Passport Register" will be set up and at this stage the giving of fingerprints will also become compulsory. This biometric "Register" will join the VIS database (on all visas issued) and residence permits on the planned SIS II.

The political decision to introduce compulsory biometric identifiers, first on visas and residence permits and then on passports, was taken at two Informal meetings of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers (in February 2002 and then in March 2003). The Commission argued for a so-called "coherent approach" for "all travel documents, including the passports of EU citizens". These decisions were not reported at the time. It was the European Councils (the meeting of EU prime ministers) at Thessaloniki in June 2003 and later in Brussels on 12 December 2003 who formally endorsed the proposal. A secondary reason for bringing in biometrics on EU passports, the Commission argues, is that the USA is demanding them on passports too.

The legal basis for the proposal is highly dubious, see: Commission’s EU biometric passport proposal exceeds the EC’s powers, Statewatch legal analysis concludes that: "no powers conferred upon the EC by the EC Treaty, taken separately or together, confer upon the EC the power to adopt the proposed Regulation": Legal analysis

The proposal is that a "facial image" will become the primary biometric identifier and the decision to include fingerprints as a second would be up to decision-making at national level.

In justification the Commission first presents an utterly circular argument - because the decision had already been taken to introduce biometric data on visas and residence permits EU passports "should not lag behind". And further that there must be "coherence" as "malafide persons" might decide not to get a visa or a residence permit (as if they have any choice) and try and get:

"the less secured passport and identity card of EU nationals, t

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