The Press, 19 April 2010: 'Protest fingerprints stranded in bureaucracy'
"The Ministry of Interior is in the throes of a protest against fingerprint storage. And advises municipalities not to receive the letter.
A lady from Deventer may come for an interview with the municipality next week. To talk about her 'protest letter' about fingerprints. Ad van Tiel from Landsmeer, who had to give up 10 fingerprints because most of them were unusable, sent a registered letter.
Whether the municipality could guarantee print safety. Municipalities are in the throes of a lawsuit filed by civil rights organisation Privacy First organised action against fingerprint storage. So much so that, according to the Home Office, 'several municipalities knocked on the door asking how to deal with this'. The ministry wrote to all municipalities: 'You are strongly advised not to receive such letters, let alone sign them'. Privacy First calls on citizens, when they apply for a passport at the municipality and are required to provide their fingerprints, to issue a so-called Municipal Guarantee Letter. On the website of Privacy First lists a model letter, which states that the municipality must promise citizens that fingerprints will be handled safely. If things go wrong, the municipality must pay for the damage. The chances of things going wrong with the storage of the prints are considerable, experts say. Biometrics specialist Max Snijder, for instance, warned earlier in this newspaper that fingerprint collection and storage in the Netherlands is done in a "completely amateurish way". There are also doubts whether the government has enough oversight of the storage, as a commercial company, Sagem Identification, is responsible. There are fears that the fingerprints will end up in the hands of criminals, or that identity fraud will be committed. Ministers have so far consistently claimed that the storage is secure. Outgoing State Secretary Bijleveld: 'Don't worry, the database is safe because it is secure'. An estimated several dozen citizens confronted their municipalities with such a letter so far. According to Privacy First not yet replied. Deventer did. In a response, the municipality says it "cannot get out of the procedure in the letter". The two people who submitted a letter are advised to go into a normal complaints procedure. Landsmeer gave a similar response. And why ten prints had to be taken from Ad van Tiel, when only four are saved? 'When you are a bit older, prints are sometimes of poor quality,' the municipality said. 'The first ones were not good.'"
Source: The Press, 19 April 2010, p. 3.