Wednesday

21st Feb 2018

Security trumps privacy, EU court says

  • EU rules requiring fingerprints for passports do not breach fundamental rights, says the European Court of Justice (Photo: EU's attempts)

Ensuring protection against the fraudulent use of passports outweighs personal privacy concerns about mandatory fingerprinting, the European Union's top court said Thursday.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Thursday (17 October) that although the taking and storing of fingerprints for passports breached privacy and personal data rights, it did not breach the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights and was in line with EU law.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Article eight of the Charter includes an explicit right to the protection of personal data, but the Luxembourg-based Court ruled that the infringement of privacy was justified because fingerprinting reduced fraud.

"The contested measures pursue, in particular, the general interest objective of preventing illegal entry into the EU. To that end, they are intended to prevent the falsification of passports and the fraudulent use thereof," stated the Luxembourg-based court.

The case was brought by German-resident Michael Schwarz, who applied for a passport in his home town of Bochum, but refused to have his fingerprints taken.

Under regulations agreed by EU governments in 2009, passports and travel documents must include biometric data including two fingerprints together with a photograph, although the UK and Ireland have an exemption from the rules.

The court also noted that the legislation explicitly states that the fingerprint data can only be used to verify identity and the authenticity of a passport.

The use of biometric data to track travellers and police border control remains a highly charged issue across the EU and elsewhere.

The US is among a growing number of countries which take fingerprints from all non-residents wishing to enter the country.

Meanwhile, government ministers and MEPs in Brussels are currently scrutinising plans unveiled by the European Commission to fingerprint anyone who enters the EU under its "smart borders" proposal at an estimated cost of over €1 billion.

The commission says the system is necessary to improve the EU's border control and would update border control checks, reduce waiting times, and help border guards implement EU border rules

Critics of the plan, which includes an Entry/Exit System (EES) that would require up to ten fingerprints and store the personal details of any non-EU citizen over the age of 12 in a database, say it is too costly, uses unproven technology and risks violating numerous privacy rights.

Brussels unveils plan to use fingerprints on EU passports

The European Commission has unveiled technical details of a new type of biometric data to be used in EU citizens' passports. Along with facial features that must be part of newly issued travel documents by late August, the member states will be obliged to issue passports with two fingerprints by 2009.

Analysis

We are not (yet) one people

Talks on the next EU budget will start on Friday. Brussels wants to do much more than before – and needs a lot more money. But arguing about funds won't be enough.

Opinion

Intellectual property protection - the cure for Europe's ills

The European Commission is considering rolling back medical research incentives, on the faulty assumption they are somehow driving higher drug prices. But not only is that premise flawed – the proposed fix will do nothing to benefit ordinary health consumers.

Interview

Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me

Vice-president of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen tells EUobserver that he did most of the talking during a beer with the former commission chief, who now works for Goldman Sachs.

News in Brief

  1. Commission fines car cartels €546m
  2. Juncker: 'nothing' wrong in Katainen meeting Barroso
  3. Juncker appoints new head of cabinet
  4. MEPs decide not to veto fossil fuel projects list
  5. Factory relocation risks drawing Vestager into Italian election
  6. Irregular migration into EU drops to four-year low, says Frontex
  7. Macron's new migrant law faces opposition in parliament
  8. MEPs approve anti-smuggling bill on tobacco

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  2. International Climate ShowSupporting Start-Ups & SMEs in the Energy Transition. 21 February in Brussels
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  4. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  5. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  7. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. Bank of Latvia sends deputy to ECB amid bribery probe
  2. We are not (yet) one people
  3. Intellectual property protection - the cure for Europe's ills
  4. Eastern states push back at rule of law conditions on funds
  5. Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me
  6. A European budget: securing a prosperous future for Europe
  7. Poland wrong to log in ancient forest, says EU lawyer
  8. EU taxpayers risk bailing out MEP pension scheme