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Ravage Digital, 28 Sept 2012: 'ID card becomes finger-free'

"Fingerprints will no longer be taken when applying for id cards. In addition, the Council of State asks the European Court whether fingerprinting for id documents does not violate fundamental and human rights.

The Dutch passport and id card, if the applicant is at least 18 and the cabinet agrees, will have a validity period of 10 years (currently four years). Also, it will no longer be necessary to provide fingerprints when applying for an id card. These changes have been made in the new Passport Act, which the council of ministers agreed to on Friday. The new rules are likely to apply from October 2013.

The abolition of the mandatory submission of three fingerprints to apply for an id card is because the pass will no longer be considered a travel document under the new Passport Act. The pass will nevertheless remain usable to travel to the same countries as with the current id card. In case of loss of passport or id card, there will no longer be an additional charge when applying for a new one.

Privacy First Foundation calls on the Dutch parliament to pass the bill abolishing fingerprints in id cards as soon as possible. "In anticipation of the expected adoption of the bill, the collection of fingerprints for ID cards should be stopped immediately or at least (as a temporary solution) made voluntary," the organisation reports.

For fighters against the invasion of their privacy, this is good news. Nevertheless, the compulsory giving up of fingerprints to purchase a Dutch passport remains squarely in place. Several individuals and privacy organisations have recently started legal proceedings against it in protest, including in The Hague, Nuth, Skarsterlân and Amsterdam.

But more hopeful news reached us today. Namely, the Council of State wants a so-called preliminary opinion from the European Court of Justice before ruling further on these legal proceedings initiated against the State and some municipal authorities. The ongoing proceedings have been suspended pending the opinion of the European Court.

The Council of State (RvS) now wants to know from the court in Luxembourg whether the European regulation, which requires European Union member states to include fingerprints in passports and travel documents, violates the right to privacy. In the opinion of the RvS, "it is not clear beforehand whether the restriction on the right to privacy is proportionate to the interest in preventing the misuse of passports and travel documents."

In addition, the Council of State wants to know whether the European regulation applies to the Dutch ID card in addition to passports. Finally, the Council of State wants clarity on whether or not it should be ensured that fingerprints are not collected and used for purposes other than the issuance of a passport or ID card."

Source: Ravage Digital, 28 September 2012.