Chamber majority against fingerprints in passport
On 18 April last, Privacy First sent the call below to the House of Representatives' Standing Committee on Home Affairs. Similar calls by Privacy First dated from, among others 21 April 2011, 4 May 2011, 8 September 2011 and 20 March 2012:
In preparation for the General Consultation (AO) on the Passport Act on 25 April, we hereby refer you (once again) to Privacy First's comments on the Bekker report dated 29 February last; see this hyperlink. In our opinion, the compulsory collection of fingerprints for Dutch identity cards should be expressly addressed at this AO. After all, almost a year after Minister Donner's pledge to quickly remove this obligation, there has still been no change in the law in this regard. This could (and should) have been settled long ago, either on the initiative of the Minister of the Interior or the House of Representatives. Privacy First also urges you once again to ask the Dutch government to take the initiative to amend the Passport Regulation at European level, so that the compulsory collection of fingerprints for passports can also be scrapped or at least made voluntary.
Privacy First Foundation" (Click HERE for confirmation of receipt).
This General Consultation was then postponed to 15 May and took place yesterday with the result that the above recommendations of Privacy First were adopted by a majority of the House of Representatives acquiredHERE for an audio recording (mp3, 84 MB). Asked by Pierre Heijnen (PvdA) when a bill to introduce an identity card without fingerprints will be submitted, Minister Spies (BZK) replied that it will be done before this summer. Also, a parliamentary majority of PvdA, PVV, D66, SP and GroenLinks spoke in favour of scrapping compulsory fingerprinting for passports and urged the minister to make the case for this in Brussels. Next week, the Lower House will pass a motion on this. The Dutch government will then have the mandate to negotiate at European (and international) level to amend the European Passport Regulation.
This seems to complete the circle: on the initiative of the Netherlands (under US pressure), the European Union decided in 2004 to introduce mandatory fingerprinting in passports. However, its usefulness and necessity have never been demonstrated. In addition, the inclusion of fingerprints in US Nor were passports ever an issue either. It is now up to the Netherlands to start cleaning up its own biometric mess in Brussels: "the polluter pays". In doing so, the Netherlands will no doubt quickly find countries like France, Germany and the UK on its side. Hypocritical US pressure should not be an obstacle in this context. On the contrary: the United States will also have to come to realise that its foreign policy only generates resistance and (therefore) ultimately backfires. The days when fingerprinting could be enforced under the guise of combating terrorism are long gone. It would be a sign of vision if, in the year 2012, people also started to realise this in The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Update 4 June 2012: excitement mounts... on Thursday afternoon, 7 June next, a plenary parliamentary debate takes place on the Passport Act which will include the issue of fingerprints and conscientious objectors. It is likely that Pierre Heijnen (PvdA) will then also table a motion calling on the government to make the case in Brussels for abolishing the compulsory collection of fingerprints at European level. During the General Consultation (AO) on 15 May last, there appeared to be a broad parliamentary majority in favour of such a motion; click HERE for the draft report of this AO.