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Romania: Protests against biometric passports

11 February, 2009

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

A few hundred Romanians gathered on 1 February 2009 to protest against the introduction of the obligatory biometric passports starting with the beginning of 2009.

The event comes after the first passports with biometric identifiers (including fingerprints) were issued at the end of January in the county of Ilfov, as a first implementation in the country. The decision was heavily contested by several prominent members of the Orthodox Church that consider it as the first step towards the introduction of biometric identifiers in all ID cards, which is a direct action against freedom of religion and freedom of expression or the right to a private life.

A few civil society pro-orthodox groups, gathered under the name "Coalition against the Police State", started on online petition, with more than 15 000 signatures, calling for a stop to the biometric passports and biometric driving licences, until the situation has been properly explained by the authorities. The coalition also organized the event on 1 February in front of the Patriarchy Palace and announced that one lawyer started a civil action in court in order to stop the Government Decision that allows the issuing of the biometric passports.

The people protesting presented banners stating: "Let us choose!" or "Support the Church ! Refuse the implant!". Several speakers expressed their concern that imposing obligatory biometric IDs is an attempt to make humans same as cattle as a first step to Total Control from the state. Others have considered that the new electronic chip contains the number 666, which, in their opinion, means the first step towards the Apocalypse. The extreme right-wing party Noua Dreapta has joined the demonstration with their specific flags.

The Romanian Patriarchy Orthodox Church refused to publicly support the events, calling for calm and prayers, but at the same time asked the Romanian Government more information regarding the new biometric passports. An official opinion should be issued after their meeting in 27-28 February 2009.

A similar event on 4 February organized by the Coalition against the Police State gathered more than 100 persons with images with politicians looking like sheep. The organizers protested about the fact that no public debate was intiated by the Government in order to asses the social, economical and religious impact of the decision to have obligatory biometric passports.

In both events the participants also protested against the new law on data retention, explained as the law that will permit authorities to "record and keep all the electronic communications of the Romanian citizens."

Another civil society organization - Civil Society Commissariat announced that it has sued its own telecom provider Orange to oblige it to respect the contractual obligations regarding the confidentiality of the communications.Thus, the provider should not implement the data retention law. The organization wants to use this opportunity to challenge the law to the Constitutional Court based on the right to privacy.

Protest of several NGOs to the introduction of chips in IDs (only in Romanian, 1.02.2009)

Government - accused by hundreds of christens that it has started the apocalypse of the Passport Chip (only in Romanian, 1.02.2009)

Photos from the 1.02.2009 event (2.02.2009)

Romanian Petition against biometric passports

The Civil Society Commisariat asks the annulment of the law on telephony data retention (only in Romanian, 4.02.2009)

EDRi-gram: Romania: Is really privacy a topic in the public debate? (28.01.2009)



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