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Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 20 April 2011: 'New clamour for biometric passport'

D66, SP and, it seems, more parties, want an integrity investigation into the Personal Records and Travel Documents Agency (BPR) as soon as possible. The Privacy First foundation is not waiting for that investigation and is going to court. This emerged on Wednesday after a roundtable discussion on biometric data in passports.

The main reason for the investigation are shocking statements by two experts. They say the BPR declared them persona non grata because they were too critical of the biometric passport.

They are a former civil servant and a security consultant. The official was responsible for a feasibility study on applicability of biometrics, such as fingerprints, on travel documents.

The safety consultant worked at TNO. According to him, the BPR even threatened to discontinue consultations with the research institute if he was involved in them. He also said he was called to order by the leader of the New Generation Travel Documents project because he had given a critical speech at a congress, "while minister Roger van Boxtel was in the audience".

The conversation took place at the initiative of Gerard Schouw of D66, who already smelt fuse on reading the WRR report Happy Landings. 'That's like a detective. I thought: let's invite all those people.'

None of the various experts who took office seemed very comfortable with the biometric passport and its risks in terms of security and privacy, among others. They also said its effectiveness leaves much to be desired.

For instance, identity verification based on fingerprints is still proving problematic. In a three-week trial in Roermond, over 20 per cent of the fingerprints did not match the stored data.
Kept ignorant

Schouw and SP's Ronald van Raak acknowledged that the passport was rushed through the Lower House. Moreover, MPs seemed to be kept ignorant They now say they were simply not given answers to all kinds of questions at the time. 'That is very bad, the House should be told the pros and cons,' Schouw believes.

The committee will talk to Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner next week. Schouw: 'I demand an investigation then. And if not, we as a parliament can commission an investigation ourselves.'

The Privacy First foundation is not waiting for that investigation and is going to court. The organisation wants to get to the bottom with a WOB request, the Government Information (Public Access) Act. Director Vincent Böhre announced.

According to Böhre, hardly anyone knows what went on at the Basic Administration BPR in recent years. Not even the WRR.
Donner did not give BPR officials permission to participate in the hearing."

Read HERE the whole article at Radio Netherlands Worldwide.