EU: Fingerprinting of children - the debate goes on (1)

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- Spain taking fingerprints and facial images from children at birth
- Czech Republic taking fingerprints from 5 and facial images from birth
- Latvia and France in favour of fingerprints from 6 and facial images from birth

The debate on the age for fingerprinting children goes on within the confines of secret Council (25 EU governments) meetings. Our previous report (EU states will be free to fingerprint children from day one of their life as soon as it is technologically possible) covered the meeting of the Visa Working Party. The issue was then considered by the Mixed Committee - Working Party Frontiers/False Documents (Mixed Committees are the 25 EU member states plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland) (EU doc no: 11014/06).

Portugal, Hungary and UK were in favour of the Council Presidency proposal for "facial images":

"0 to 12 years of age.. storage in the chip [to be] on the basis of national legislation [and] from 12 years of age: Compulsory". (emphasis in original)

and the taking of finger-prints:

"Scanning of fingerprints up to 12 years of age.. is permissible if provided for by national legislation"

"From 12 years of age: compulsory"
(emphasis in original)

Germany was in favour of a minimum age of 14. However, Sweden is in favour of:

"a lower minimum age for taking fingerprints, than proposed in the Presidency paper, and a minimum age which should be as low as possible, for capturing facial images"

Latvia and France are in favour of:

"taking fingerprints from the age of 6 and capturing facial images from birth"

The Czech Republic said:

"it was taking fingerprints from the age of 5 and capturing facial image from birth on"

And Spain said:

"it was taking both biometric identifiers [fingerprints and facial image] from birth on"

In the Minutes the chair concludes "there was no agreement on the issue"

1. EU doc no: 11014/06
2. EU doc no: 9403/1/06
3. EU doc no: 10540/06

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