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Fundamental Rights Agency: new opinions highlight privacy and profiling concerns with biometric identity cards and Visa Information System proposals
14.9.18
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The EU's Fundamental Rights Agency has published two detailed new opinions examining recent proposals to expand and amend the Visa Information System (VIS) and to make the inclusion of biometrics (fingerprints and facial images) mandatory in all EU citizens' national identity cards.

The proposals raise concerns over privacy and data protection, noting that the inclusion of fingerprints in identity cards is unecessary and that the VIS proposals do not adequately address potential problems with long-term data storage, biometric matching, law enforcement access to the database and individuals' rights to access, correction and deletion of their personal data.

The agency also highlights that the VIS proposals raise the possibility of increased discriminatory identity checks by law enforcement agencies, noting:

"The broad powers given to national authorities to query VIS to verify whether “the person is not a threat to public policy, internal security or public health of any of the Member States” can easily be abused."

Articles published by Statewatch over the summer also highlighted some of these issues (see further reading, below).

Read the FRA opinions:

The revised Visa Information System and its fundamental rights implications (pdf) and: summary (FRA, link)

Fundamental rights implications of storing biometric data in identity documents and residence cards (pdf) and: summary (FRA, link)

Further reading (Statewatch News Online)

Biometrics in identity cards: the Member States want to fingerprint children (26 August 2018)

Press release: EU plans to include fingerprints in identity cards are unjustified and unnecessary (11 June 2018)

Visa Information System: Commission proposals sneak in mandatory biometrics for long-stay visas (20 August 2018)

All visa applicants to be profiled and children fingerprinted for revamped Visa Information System (17 August 2018)

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