Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Today's outrage - Millions of children to be fingerprinted

The Observer reports that:
British children, possibly as young as six, will be subjected to compulsory fingerprinting under European Union rules being drawn up in secret. The prints will be stored on a database which could be shared with countries around the world.

The prospect has alarmed civil liberties groups who fear it represents a 'sea change' in the state's relationship with children and one that may lead to juveniles being erroneously accused of crimes. Under laws being drawn up behind closed doors by the European Commission's 'Article Six' committee, which is composed of representatives of the European Union's 25 member states, all children will have to attend a finger-printing centre to obtain an EU passport by June 2009 at the latest.

The use of fingerprints and other biometric data is designed to prevent passport fraud and allow European member states to meet US entry visa requirements, but the decision to fingerprint children has disturbed human rights groups.

The civil liberties group Statewatch last night accused EU governments of taking decisions in which 'people and parliaments have no say'. It said the committee's decisions were simply based on 'technological possibilities - not on the moral and political questions of whether it is right or desirable.'

'This is a sea change,' said Ben Hayes, spokesman for Statewatch. 'We are going from fingerprinting criminals to universal fingerprinting without any real debate. In the long term everyone's fingerprints will be stored on a central database. You have to ask what will be the costs to a person's privacy.'
[Edited to add]

It's not clear what effect this may have in Ireland. The legal basis is Regulation 2252/2004 which is a Schengen act and therefore not binding on Ireland. The Government's current policy is not to include fingerprints on passports - see the Dept. of Foreign Affairs FAQ. However, if and when Ireland does enter Schengen this will be a fait accompli.

1 comment:

  1. It's typical of the bureaucrats approach of law-enforcement; instead of being "innocent until proven guilty" everyone will now be guilty be default and will be considered "guilty until proven innocent".
    The fact that there is no vote or refferendum of any sort on issues like this is indicative of the manner in which the EU government forges ahead with it's own hairbrain schemes with complete disregard for the European citizens.
    The following quote also instills a great deal of confidence in how such a database will be managed:
    "Whether access for third countries will be allowed has to be decided by the EC at a later stage,’ the spokesman said. ‘Nevertheless, full interoperability is ensured, should the EU decide to give access to third countries.’"...