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Finland fingerprints all Finns and foreigns

Overkill from icy minnow of the north

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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. ®

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