Domestic Administration, 21 Oct 2013: 'European Court: storing fingerprints not allowed'
“Recording fingerprints on the chip in a passport is allowed, the European Court of Justice has ruled. But storing those fingerprints in a database is not legal, the Court said. This has implications for the Dutch Passport Act.
The ruling was made following a German court case in which a citizen refused to give fingerprints for inclusion in his passport. Unlike the German citizen in question, the court does not see the inclusion of those fingerprints in the passport as unlawful. While it is somewhat contrary to European citizens' rights, countering fraud justifies that infringement, the Court finds.
Storage may not
However, German citizens cannot cite the possible extensive misuse by the authorities of centrally stored fingerprint data (in a database) as an argument, simply because such storage is not allowed, according to the Court's advice to the German court. A separate court case about such storage thus seems to end in a priori a ban on such storage.
This also means that the new Dutch Passport Act, which the Senate has yet to consider, will come under pressure. Article 4b of that act allows for a centralised travel document administration, including storage of fingerprints, accessible to the Public Prosecutor for investigation purposes. The article is a 'dormant article', which is not immediately effective when the law takes effect, but may become so. Civil rights movement Privacy First is currently taking legal action with a group of citizens to have that article removed from the Passport Act, but was initially declared inadmissible by the Hague court. At the end of this month, the appeal at the Court [The Hague]."