This sucks really bad!!! EU to launch biometric passports by summer
14.01.2009 @ 17:45 CET
EU OBSERVER / BRUSSELS – MEPs on Wednesday (14 January) backed new rules on the introduction of biometric passports throughout the EU later this year, while exempting children under 12 years from having fingerprints included in their passports.
The rules were approved at a first reading by an overwhelming majority of MEPs – 594 against 51, while 37 abstained.
The fingerprints of children under 12 were found not to be sufficiently reliable because they change as the child grows older (Photo: wikipedia)
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The parliamentarians underlined the need to improve document security in the EU by introducing "more reliable biometric data, namely fingerprints," and highlighted the different criteria member states currently apply when checking the passport applicants' identity.
"Many countries require that the citizen applying for a passport actually present him or herself in person, together with their documents and photographs, and in these cases the officials at the passport-issuing office can see if that person bears a resemblance to the photo presented," Polish Christian Democrat Urszula Gacek said during a plenary debate on the issue in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
But in some states, in particular the UK, "applications by post are the norm, and the authenticity of the photo is only confirmed by a so-called 'professional person' who has known the applicant for at least two years," she indicated.
The new rules stipulate that all EU countries, as well as in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, should start issuing passports containing biometric elements - such as facial images and fingerprints - as of 29 June this year.
States have until 2012 to fully implement the rules and current passports will remain valid for travelling for most countries until then.
Meanwhile, some member states - such as Germany, France and the Netherlands - have started issuing the new passports before the June deadline.
Exemption for children under 12
However, under a compromise agreed by both the European Commission and the Parliament, children younger than 12, as well as people with certain disabilities making them unable to give finger prints, will benefit from an exemption from the rule.
Although no exemptions were initially planned, pilot projects in some countries found the fingerprints of young children not to be sufficiently reliable, because they change as the child grows older.
"If an agreement had not been found [among the MEPs], everybody would have had to give their fingerprints, even the newborn, as long as they would travel abroad with a passport. So, I would really like to express the satisfaction of the commission" about the compromise agreed, EU justice commissioner Jacques Barrot said during the debate.
The new legislation also introduces the so-called "one person, one passport" principle, aiming particularly at combating the traffic of children by introducing passports for them. Up until now, parents' passports often covered their children as well.
Some concerns remain
Some MEPs expressed concerns about the biometric passports, however.
Latvian Green MEP Tatjana Zdanok pointed to the dangers linked to "the extensive use of biometrics."
"We strongly oppose the extensive introduction of biometrics until its necessity is proven beyond reasonable doubt. We believe that it has crucial implications for personal data safety and for fundamental rights," she said.
"We strongly believe that biometrics in passports should only be used for verifying the authenticity of the document or the identity of the holder… We cannot agree that everyone holding a European passport should be thought of as a potential suspect, whose fingerprints are to be stored," she added.
Cypriot MEP Adamos Adamou from the leftist GUE/NGL group echoed these concerns, saying: "The political scope of this regulation clearly seeks to legalise the use of biometric data and puts us in a state of mind of constant surveillance and deprivation of privacy."
More security measures and data collection "only leads to abuses of authority and offences against political liberties", he added.http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/e...default_en.htmSecurity features and biometrics in passports
Justice and home affairs - 14-01-2009 - 12:56
Children under twelve should no longer have their fingerprints included on passports issued in the European Union, the European Parliament says in a co-decision report adopted with 594 votes in favour, 51 against and 37 abstentions. But they should have their own passports, so as to combat trafficking in children, say MEPs. Biometric passports will be introduced in the whole EU (+ Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) on the 29 June.
The European Parliament adopted plans to amend a 2004 regulation laying down biometric features to be included in passports and other travel documents, including the holder's fingerprints. The European Parliament adopted a compromise position agreed with Council last year.
In the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001, the Commission was asked by Member States to take immediate action to improve document security. The EU decided, therefore, to integrate biometrics in European passports. These identifiers comprise a facial image and fingerprints, making it possible to combat fraud and falsification more effectively. The regulation, already adopted, which will come into force in June, establishes technical specifications such as :
• additional security features notably with a view to combating counterfeiting and falsification;
• the storage medium and its security;
• common quality requirements for the facial image and the fingerprints.
However, during pilot projects carried out in some Member States it was found that children's fingerprints are not of sufficient quality, especially those of the youngest children, which can change greatly as they grow older. In its draft text, the European Commission therefore suggested to introduce an exemption for children under twelve. A similar exemption was agreed for people deemed physically unable to give fingerprints.
The rapporteur and Council presidency agreed that fingerprints should not be taken from children under the age of 12. However, countries already taking fingerprints from children under that age, but not below 6, can continue to do so for four years .
In cases where it is impossible to take fingerprints, Member states may deliver a temporary passport having a validity of twelve months or less.
One person, one passport
To combat trafficking in children, the draft legislation also proposes introducing the principle "one person, one passport": until now a passport issued to a parent has often also covered the children by adding their names - but the microchip contains only the parent's biometric data. The Regulation does not provide a legal base for setting up or maintaining databases for storage of these data in Member States.
UK government position
The UK is excluded from participation in this Regulation as it is a development of the Schengen acquis in which the UK does not take part. However, the Government supports the inclusion of fingerprints in passports and travel documents as a means of providing better identification. The UK has stated its intention to keep in step with the Regulation to ensure that UK passports are not seen as 'second class' compared with those issued by other Member States.
Germany started collecting fingerprints in March 2007. The Netherlands are testing it since 2004. In France, it is available on request since April 2006.