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Mass storage of fingerprints violates the right to privacy  Following the Court of Appeal of The Hague, today the Dutch Council of State (Raad van State) judged that municipal (‘decentral’) storage of fingerprints under the Dutch Passport Act is unlawful on account of violation of the right to privacy. The Council of State reached this conclusion in seven administrative law cases of Dutch individual citizens (supported by civil organization Vrijbit). At the start of 2014, the Court of Appeal of The Hague handed down a similar ruling in the civil Passport case by the Privacy First Foundation and 19 (other) citizens against the Dutch government. Subsequently however, our Passport trial was declared inadmissible by the Dutch Supreme Court and was redirected to…
Today, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg (EU Court) has come up with its long awaited judgment in four Dutch cases related to the storage of fingerprints under the Dutch Passport Act. The EU Court did so at the request of the Dutch Council of State. The EU Court deems the storage of fingerprints in databases to fall outside the scope of the European Passport Regulation. Therefore, the Court leaves the judicial review of such storage to national judges and the European Court of Human Rights.Cause for the ruling In all four Dutch cases citizens refused to give their fingerprints (and facial scans) when they requested a new Dutch passport or ID card. For this reason, their requests for…
The Privacy First Foundation has, with pleasure, just taken cognisance of 1) the announcement earlier today of a Dutch legislative proposal to abrogate fingerprints in ID cards and 2) the decision by the Dutch Council of State (Raad van State) to make a request for a preliminary ruling to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on the legality and interpretation of the European Passport Regulation in four administrative cases of individual Dutch citizens. The Privacy First Foundation hereby makes an appeal to Dutch Parliament to adopt the legislative proposal to abrogate fingerprints in ID cards as soon as possible. In anticipation of the expected adoption of this legislative proposal, taking people's fingerprints for ID cards must be halted immediately or at least become voluntary as a temporary solution. Privacy First…
In almost all of the lawsuits that are pending against the new Dutch Passport Act, there is one important subject that has so far been little exposed: the use of sensitive personal data by secret services. In this case it’s about biometrics: digital facial scans and fingerprints that end up in all sorts of databases through people's passports and ID cards. At the moment those databases are still only in the hands of municipalities and the passport manufacturer in Haarlem (Morpho, previously called Sagem), in the future they will undoubtedly end up elsewhere too, eventually worldwide. In that sense every Dutchman is a potential globetrotter: in the long term your fingerprints and facial scan may be available even in the…
This summer it was already announced (and commented on by Privacy First) but yesterday it again popped up in the media: this fall four regional Dutch police forces will carry out a pilot experiment with mobile finger scanners to track down illegal immigrants. In official jargon this experimental project is called a ‘learning park’, according to a long-awaited response (after three months) to earlier Parliamentary questions. What will our friends at the police learn in the 'park' called the Netherlands? Privacy First sheds some light on a number of possible 'learning moments': 1) collectively intruding upon other people’s privacy and physical integrity by taking fingerprints of everyone who, in the eyes of the policeman, could perhaps be ‘illegal’, 2) this is very likely to…
Shocking news today: the Dutch police wants to check fingerprints on the streets. An experiment with special finger-scan equipment is to start this fall. Initially the aim of the experiment is to track down illegal immigrants and suspects of crimes. After that, attention will undoubtedly turn to all other citizens. It was recently decided to halt the storage of fingerprints when applying for passports and ID cards on account of privacy objections and the enormous error rates (21-25%) in biometric technology. Such errors could lead to great numbers of innocent citizens ending up as suspects. Apparently the police is now accepting this risk. No doubt this is a six-figure deal: biometrics are big business. Similar, heavily criticized projects in Great Britain involved…
Today the situation has finally been saved: the storage of fingerprints under the new Dutch Passport Act has been done away with! Both the development of a national database as well as the current storage by municipalities are being stopped. The fingerprints of 4.5 million innocent citizens that have already been stored will now have to be destroyed. Moreover, the legal status of the national ID card will have to be modified in such a way that fingerprints will no longer have to be a part of this document. This will create an ID document for use within national borders that is without biometrics which means that a long-cherished wish of those principally aggrieved is being fulfilled. Last week Privacy…
Privacy First appeals to the Dutch House of Representatives to stop the storage of passport biometrics and to withdraw the new Passport Act.Today the Privacy First Foundation has sent a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives with regard to the general meeting about the new Passport Act of 27 April 2011 with the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner. This is the content of our letter: No more than two years after the coming into force of the new Passport Act, this law is again high on the agenda of the House of Representatives. After having gone through a relatively inconspicuous parliamentary trajectory, the new Passport Act was accepted on 9 June 2009 without a vote in…
A broad international alliance of NGOs demands that there will be a European investigation into biometric data storage. Governments increasingly lay claim to people's biometric data (such as fingerprints), which are then stored on radio-frequency identification (RFID)-chips in passports and ID-cards. Some countries, such as the Netherlands, France and Lithuania go even further and store this information in databases which can be used for criminal investigation and prosecution. The alliance of more than 60 organisations (including Privacy First) has urgently requested the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland, to request the countries concerned for an explanation about whether or not their legislation on these matters complies with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as speedily as possible. The alliance is of the…
The mission of Privacy First with regard to the new Passport Act seems to succeed. Dutch government plans for centralized storage of biometric data are likely to have definitively been cancelled. This is what we have learned from well-informed sources inside the government. Now the Dutch House of Representatives is also turning its back to storage in a national database, better known as the Online Accessible Travel Documents Administration (Online Raadpleegbare Reisdocumentenadministratie, ORRA). Click HERE for an article about this in Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant of 3 February 2011. The ‘decentralized storage’ of biometric data since the summer of 2009 in Dutch municipal databases is all that remains now. However, in essence this ‘decentralized storage’ is just as centralized as a national database (certainly through possible…
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