Humanistischverbond.nl, 3 Aug 2011: 'Privacy First shoots citizen to the rescue with Municipal Guarantee Letter'
“The mandatory storage of fingerprints under the new Passport Act led to great unrest in 2010 because of the huge risks. To curb these risks for citizens, Privacy First Foundation drafted the Municipal Guarantee Letter. With this model letter, citizens can protest to their municipality and get a guarantee that their fingerprints will be handled with care.
The Municipal Guarantee Letter is a great success, reports Privacy First on its website. A big advantage is also that any damages are borne by the government. During a parliamentary debate, State Secretary Bijleveld (Home Affairs) described the letter as follows: "This is an action by the Privacy First Foundation. This foundation presents municipalities with a statement on the storage of fingerprints and asks municipal officials to sign it. Furthermore, they have to indicate how they handle fingerprints and declare that they adhere to certain guarantees."
Right to petition
The reason for this debate in the House of Representatives was the fact that the state secretary had advised municipalities not to receive the letter, let alone sign it. This to the annoyance of political parties as well as National Ombudsman Alex Brenninkmeijer. Such letters should always be received by the government because of the right to petition, the National Ombudsman said.
Storage in refrigerator
Recently, Minister Donner announced that the storage of fingerprints at municipalities would be ended by the end of July 2011 at the latest (after modification of municipal software). We reported on this on our site last year. Plans for storage in a national database were also put on hold. This due to privacy concerns and the huge error rates in biometric technology. On 1 August, the Ministry of the Interior informed Privacy First by phone that the storage of fingerprints has indeed now been discontinued at all municipalities in the Netherlands, or at least shortened to the duration between applying for and issuing a passport or identity card. Thus, the purpose of the Municipal Guarantee Letter has largely been achieved.
This brings into view the next goal: voluntary instead of mandatory storage of fingerprints in the document. To this end, Privacy First has updated the Municipal Guarantee Letter to a new version: the Municipal Guarantee Letter 2.0. This letter allows citizens to lodge an official protest with their municipality against the mandatory collection of their fingerprints for a new passport or identity card. In the model letter, Privacy First has already filled in some possible objections. Citizens can change or add to the letter as they see fit."
Read HERE the entire article on the Humanist Alliance website.