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Final call for petition on government use of citizens' biometrics

9 March, 2011

This article is also available in:
Macedonian: Последен повик за петиција за владина....

Deutsch: Petition gegen die Nutzung biometrischer Daten durch den Staat

By means of a petition, the international Alliance 'Hands off biometrics' will urge the Council of Europe to start an investigation on the collection and storage of biometric data by Member States.

European governments are increasingly demanding storage of biometric data (fingerprints and facial scans) from individuals. These include storing them on contactless "RFID" chips in passports and/or ID cards. Some are going even further and implementing database storage of these biometric data, e.g. France, Lithuania and the Netherlands.

These are inherently dangerous practices. In a democratic society, the collection of the biometrics of an entire population is disproportionate and, for other reasons, unnecessary interference with our right to privacy (Article 8) and other rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Because of these concerns, the United Kingdom Government has recently abandoned the policy of collecting fingerprints from citizens. Yet, most countries are keen to fingerprint people who have not committed a crime.

That's why the Alliance will urgently ask Secretary General Jagland of the Council of Europe to request the countries involved to explain whether their national law on this subject is in line with the European Convention and ECtHR court rulings. Thus, Member States will have to address questions regarding proportionality, subsidiarity, effectiveness, function creep, safety measures and "accordance with the law".

The petition is supported by Privacy International, EDRi and several other civil rights defenders from 15 European countries and 7 countries outside Europe so far.

The deadline for sending your support is 18 March 2011.

Petition request to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg

(Contribution by Alliance "Hands off biometrics" / " Halte au stockage biométrique")



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