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Disappointing State Council verdict in 'summary proceedings' over fingerprints

It was with surprise that the Privacy First Foundation yesterday took note of the provisional ruling of the Council of State in the case in which an Amsterdam student had requested a temporary passport or identity card without fingerprints (biometric data); among other reasons, because of medical legitimisation reasons in combination with biometric conscientiousness. After all, during the recent critical court hearing (attended by Privacy First) at the Council of State on 19 July, it had become clear that the Dutch State had no legal or factual interest whatsoever in taking fingerprints for a Dutch identity card with a validity of one year. Legal after all, such a document is not covered by the European Passport Regulation. Also, actual there is a biometric error rate of 21-25% and (partly for this reason) the fingerprints stored in the document are not checked or used at all. In addition, since several months, a Amendment to the Passport Act pending to scrap compulsory fingerprinting for Dutch identity cards as soon as possible. Consequently, the only "objection" the State could raise during the hearing was that the municipal software would not (yet) be equipped to do so. The judge's rejection "already because [the applicant] was from the outset only opposed to the non-consideration of an application to get a passport has arisen" is moreover misplaced, as both the State and the judge (!) had hardly made a point of this during the hearing. In doing so, this judge's ruling shows himself to be primarily a lackey of the European Commission rather than a servant of human rights at home. It is to be hoped that the Council of State will still show legal backbone when ruling on three similar proceedings on the merits (no later than 17 September).

This post constitutes a copy of our press response dated 7 August last; see also Novum, Council of State: no passport without fingerprint.

Update 26 August 2012: the Council of State is going to submit so-called 'preliminary questions' on the matter to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. We will keep you informed

Update 26 September 2012: on Friday 28 September next, the Council of State will rule at 2pm in four similar cases on fingerprints in passports and ID cards; see this press release.

Update 28 September 2012: The Council of State submits a number of critical questions on the European Passport Regulation to the European Court of Justice, read HERE further.