16 December 2008
EU: European Parliament: Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE):
The LIBE Committee will today consider this report which "provisionally" sets the age limit for the taking of fingerprints from children as 12 years old - Member States which have already adopted national laws for a lower age are allowed to carry on - for these states a lower age limit is set at 6 years old. The Commission is to prepare a report:
"based on a large scale and in-depth study carried out by an independent authority and supervised by the Commission, which shall examine the reliability and technical feasibility, including through an evaluation of the accuracy of the systems in operation, of using the fingerprints of children under the age of 14 for identification and verification purposes, including a comparison of the false rejection rates occurring in each Member State and - based on the results of that study - an analysis of the need for common rules regarding the matching process."
An interesting Joint Statement is attached as regards: "unreliable "breeder documents"":
"The passport in itself is only one link of a security chain starting from the presentation of the breeder documents, to the enrolment of biometric data and ending with the matching at the border check points. This chain will only be as secure as its weakest link.
The European Parliament and the Council note that there is a great diversity of situations and procedures in the Member States regarding which "breeder documents" should be produced in order to request the issuing of a passport and that normally these documents have less security features than the passport in itself, and are more likely to be subjected to forgery and counterfeiting.
The Council shall therefore prepare a questionnaire for the Member States in order to be able to compare the procedures and which documents are required in each Member State in order to issue a passport or travel document."
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"It is to be welcomed that the European Parliament has insisted on a "provisional" limit of 12 years old for the taking of fingerprints from children. However, the taking of childrens' fingerprints is not just a "technical" question it is a moral and political one. Children do not have the right of "informed consent" and their fingerprints will be kept for the rest of their lives.
The Joint Statement on "unreliable "breeder documents" which recognises they "are more likely to be subjected to forgery and counterfeiting" begs major questions. To put in place a binding Regulation before ascertaining what the situation is in every member state, setting common security and privacy standards and providing sufficient time for these standards to be implemented is quite simply irresponsible."
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