Finland fingerprints all Finns and foreigns
Overkill from icy minnow of the north
The Finnish government is pushing ahead with plans to collect all citizens' fingerprints for passports and to give police access to fingerprints for crime detection.
The bill is expected to go before the Finnish parliament this week and is likely to come into force in spring. Part of the justification is the EU requirement to add biometrics to passports - a requirement from this summer.
Anyone applying for a passport, temporary passport, seaman's pass or "alien or refugee travel document" will have their dabs taken and added to the national register. Police will able to access that database for crime detection.
But opposition to the police plan is growing. Data protection and privacy experts have warned there will inevitably be errors in the database which would be difficult to correct. There are also concerns that the information will be misused or leaked.
Electronic Frontier Finland warned that treating the entire population as criminals was wrong and said: "With all the data has a tendency to be misused, and if it is collected only as a precaution, it is not a good idea."
The Google translation of the Finnish government's statement is here.
The UK government's collection of DNA samples was ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights late last year. BAA's collection of passenger fingerprints at Heathrow's terminal five was also criticised by data protection groups. ®
The saving grace of the Spanish system is its complete and utter inefficiency.
They can take whatever data they like, as soon as they put it down they can't find it again without having to get up and walk to a filing cabinet (which isn't in anybodies job description), and as for the idea of the central database actually working for more than half an hour a month, well, the less said the better.
So far I haven't had problems with the no-id card bit, most people happily accept a driving license as valid ID, so I don't need to drag the passport around.
I'm not 100% sure that Portugal stores ID card fingerprints in a database for police access, but I am 100% sure that Spain do; if you want to live and work in Spain one of the first things you have to do is go to a police station and hand over your fingerprints to get two documents; one is a foreigner ID number and one is an certificate for EU nationals saying your application for residency has been granted and your details have been stored on a central database for residents from other EU countries.
The usual response when raising this subject with a local is that it's a shame that those credit-card sized residency cards for EU nationals were removed (by EU directive) as A4 certificates aren't very practical. The idea is that you show your own EU ID card or passport instead.
When mentioning that the UK doesn't have any ID card that I can use in its place and I'm not dragging my passport everywhere, the response is utter bafflement. How can the state not give people ID numbers? Isn't the result utter administrative chaos? Well, certainly no worse than in Spain... And mention the privacy issue. But how can you get things done if you don't have an ID number?
But anyway, from the different stories that appear in the press, it looks like the idea in Brussels seems to be is that each EU state is responsible for putting its own citizens on their own national database and putting foreign residents from other EU countries into a second database which can easily be linked to their entry in their home country's national database should it be deemed necessary. This is why ID cards are popping up in EU countries which didn't have them before and are becoming compulsary in those EU countries which had optional ID cards before.
Sorry to go on a two-post ment but in another Register story it seems that there's a new EU working body which will specify what data will be held and how. And ID cards in Europe have a spangly new name, European eID...
Obviously this kind of thing is easier to sell in some countries than others.
In Spain there was no practically no discussion at all about the move to chipped ID cards because it was basically the same information held in chip form in addition to what was already written on the card and stored in the national database, what little complaint about privacy there was confined to easily-ignorable blogs. There was more complaint about why the photo is now in black and white instead of colour (probably because of the chip's capacity) and why are we having to wait so long for it to be rolled out in (insert town here).
In the UK it seems this is dragging out quite a while in spite of Labour's efforts, which is nice.