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Nederlands Dagblad, 31 Jan 2013: 'Fingerprints of all aliens in database'

All fingerprints and passport photos of all foreigners in the Netherlands must be stored in a database, which the Public Prosecution Service (OM) may access if a criminal investigation has stalled. The House of Representatives yesterday approved an amendment to the Aliens Act, introducing the database. However, the Senate still has to agree to the amendment.

The system is planned to have ten vingerafdrukken and will include a passport photo of every foreigner living in the Netherlands who is not from European countries. VVD, PvdA, CDA, PVV, 50Plus and the SGP voted in favour. GroenLinks also mistakenly cast an affirmative vote, but announced it would correct this to a negative vote. 'With this project, the Netherlands is collectively turning foreigners into potential suspects,' responded Vincent Böhre, a lawyer at the Privacy First foundation. He refers to the possibility that the public prosecutor - albeit with the permission of the examining magistrate - will be allowed to see the data if an investigation into serious crimes has stalled. 'This is not just about asylum seekers, but about all foreigners, including students and employees of companies.' According to SP MP Sharon Gesthuizen, the new law is 'stigmatising and discriminatory' for this reason. (...) With Dutch citizens, you don't have to come up with: you have nothing to do with this criminal case, but we are going to check your data anyway.'


According to Security and Justice Secretary Teeven, the database is needed to "reliably establish the identity of aliens" and to combat fraud. With the data, it would no longer be possible for foreigners to pretend to be someone else. However, there are no reports on how often this fraud occurs, several organisations, including the Refugee Council Foundation, report. It reportedly occurs in fewer than 10 cases a year. 'We therefore find the law discriminatory, and question whether this measure is necessary,' said a spokesperson. Vincent Böhre: 'These are scandalously small numbers. You cannot base this law on that.'

House previously rejected database of natives

(...) A spokesman for the [Dutch Bar Association] expressed disappointment. 'Now it is unclear who has access to the system. Moreover, the need for such access does not have to be demonstrated just because it concerns a foreigner. We would have liked this to be clearer, partly because a few years ago a database failed to go ahead because of these questions.' That concerned a similar database containing details of all Dutch citizens. That was part of the new Passport Act, passed in 2009. However, a few years later, in 2011, doubts arose about the reliability of the technology and the protection of the data. After a majority in the House of Representatives lost confidence in the database, Interior Minister Donner decided to halt the project for the time being. Development of the database will not continue until the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has considered whether the collection of this data is permissible. That could take several more years. According to lawyer Vincent Böhre, these objections hardly played a role in the debate on the collection of aliens' data. 'Apparently, the importance of privacy counts less for them. I hope the Senate blocks this development.' But even if the database were completely secure, Böhre has problems with it. 'It concerns us with the principle that you are criminalising an entire population group.' (...)"

Source: Nederlands Dagblad 31 January 2013, pp. 1 & 10. Read HERE the entire article at Nederlands Dagblad online.