EU: UK Presidency proposes that all ID cards have biometrics - everyone to be fingerprinted

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The UK Presidency of the Council of the European Union (the 25 governments) has put forward a proposal that all ID cards in the EU should have biometrics, that is, fingerprints on them.

A document dated 11 July says that this is to meet ICAO standards (International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN body). In fact all the the ICAO has agreed is that the standard passport photo (ie: the one sent in with passport applications) is "digitised" and put on a chip in passports. This is not a biometric.

Biometrics requires the physical presence of the applicant at a "enrolment centre" to compulsorily have their finger-prints taken.

In December the EU adopted a measure saying that all EU passports should carry fingerprints. Prior to this it had been agreed that all visitors requiring visas should be finger-rpinted and that all resident third country nationals are to be finger-printed too.

The "gap" left by these decisions was that for most people living in the Schengen area who use their ID cards to travel within this "area" there is no requirement for complusory finger-printing.

Thus in the EU biometrics (finger-prints) are to be compulsory for:

- passports
- third country national resident in the EU
- visas for all visitors
- all identity cards

This will effectively mean that everyone living in the EU will be compulsorily finger-printed and this biometric plus identifying personal data will first be stored on national database and then on a EU-wide database.

The USA, on the other hand. is only going to follow the ICAO standard ie: a digitised picture, not the taking of finger-prints.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"This proposal with others means that everyone living in the EU is going to be finger-printed and their details held on an EU-wide database.

At a time of great tragedy it is all the more important that we act with care and do not bequeath to future generations a society where every movement and every communication is under surveillance. Whether a democratic way of life could survive in such a climate is doubtful."

Note: the current Schengen area is: 13 EU member states (original 15 minus UK and Ireland) plus Norway and Iceland. Later it will extend to the 10 new member states plus Switzerland. Now there are 15 countries in the Schengen area, later there will be 26 countries.

Source: EU doc no: 11092/05 (pdf)

See also: UK-EU: Call for mandatory data retention of all telecommunications

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