Mobile finger scans: will the Netherlands still become a police state?
Shocking news today: police want to start checking fingerprints on the street. A trial of special finger-scanning equipment should begin this autumn for this purpose.
The trial would initially be aimed at detecting illegal aliens and criminal suspects. After that, it will undoubtedly be the turn of all other citizens.
It was recently decided to stop storing fingerprints when applying for passports and identity cards due to privacy concerns and the huge error rate (21-25%) in biometric technology. Such errors could put innocent citizens in the suspect pool en masse. Apparently, the police are now taking that risk on the cheap. No doubt a million-dollar buy: biometrics is big business. Similar, heavily criticised projects in Britain involved millions of ICT pounds.
According to the Ministry of Security and Justice, however, there is nothing to worry about:
"Instead of at the station, you take fingerprints on the spot. By doing so, you reduce bureaucracy, create more blue on the streets and improve investigative work." (Source)
Privacy First opposes this criminalisation of public space. Fingerprinting is done on suspects at the police station. Not on ordinary citizens on the street. After all, besides violating privacy, this works arbitrariness, discrimination and ethnic profiling in hand.
In Privacy First's view, the planned trial violates current privacy laws. During the recent hearing in the House of Representatives on passport biometrics, this was notably confirmed by the Chief Information Officer of Police Netherlands itself:
"It's also not like the police on the street if someone's identity needs to be established or passport is handed over, then immediately take a look, anywhere... It may not even, but it is also not technically available."
(A. Meijboom (CIO Police Netherlands), Roundtable discussion on biometric data in passports, Standing Committee on Home Affairs, House of Representatives, 20 April 2011)
Each one concludes from this his own.