Various regional newspapers, 29 Sept 2012: 'Council of State first seeks advice from European Court - Question marks over fingerprint on passport'
“Fingerprint on passport potentially violates right to privacy, State Council finds Only in one to one-and-a-half years more clarity.
The Council of State doubts whether the Dutch government may require citizens to provide fingerprints for a passport or identity card.
The rule potentially violates the right to privacy, which is why the Netherlands' highest court is seeking advice from the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. That is what the Council of State decided yesterday in four cases against municipalities that had refused citizens passports because they did not want to give fingerprints.
The Council is not convinced that the fingerprints are necessary to prevent abuse of travel documents. Moreover, it should be clarified whether the government has a duty to ensure that the fingerprints are used only for passports and ID cards.
It will take one to one-and-a-half years for the court to come up with an answer and until then, cases in the Netherlands are at a standstill.
The Privacy First foundation is pleased with the Council of State's critical stance. "This is more than we had hoped for, it could be exciting," says lawyer Vincent Böhre. "It seems that the European regulation may well be unlawful."
A German court was also critical of the regulation in May this year, asking the Luxembourg court similar questions about fingerprints. The 2009 European rule requires citizens to provide a print of a thumb and a finger when applying for a passport. This information is stored in a chip in the document and is supposed to prevent misuse by criminals and terrorists. But German legal experts argued that the passport photo as well as the fingerprints were a serious violation of a person's rights, as the measure misses the mark. Even such a so-called biometric passport is not foolproof, the experts argued. Moreover, they said, there are plenty of ways to circumvent the checks, so collecting fingerprints from all citizens makes little sense. The privacy of well-intentioned people should then carry more weight.
Civil rights association Vrijbit is not happy with the delay. The people it assists cannot apply for passports for the time being. Vrijbit argues that the government should give these people a fingerprint-free id card for as long as possible. The central government still refuses to do so, but that could change if the Lower House quickly agrees to the cabinet's plan to no longer require fingerprints for id cards."
Sources: BN/DeStem, De Stentor, Apeldoornse Courant, Deventer Dagblad, Dagblad Flevoland, Gelders Dagblad, Sallands Dagblad, Veluws Dagblad, Nieuw Kamper Dagblad, Zwolse Courant, Brabants Dagblad, Dagblad De Limburger, Zutphens Dagblad, Twentse Courant Tubantia, Eindhovens Dagblad, Noordhollands Dagblad, Enkhuizer Courant, Leeuwarder Courant, Dagblad Zaanstreek, Alkmaarsche Courant, De Gelderlander, Haarlems Dagblad, Limburgs Dagblad & Provinciale Zeeuwse Courant, 29 September 2012.