Dutch may collect fingerprints, biometric data for ID documents

The Netherlands may collect fingerprints and store all biometric data from its citizens when applying for a passport, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday. The Dutch Council of State asked the EU court to give legal explanations about European Union rules regarding the storage of fingerprints, after determining there are no existing rules prohibiting the practice.

The issue started as four Dutch people refused to give fingerprints when applying for a passport or an ID card. They claim that the collection and storage of biometric data is "a gross violation of bodily integrity and a restriction of the right to the protection of private life," the Parool writes. The concern raised is the use of stored data for other purposes.

The Council of State made an inquiry about any other Member States having to guarantee under European Union law not to use collected data for any other purposes. Though the European Union recognizes the possible risks, it states that the EU has not made a ruling regarding the issue.

The existing rules do not require Member States to guarantee in their legislation thatcollected biometric data will only be used for the issuance of a passport or an identification card, the court judgement rules.

Although the European rules on the protection of personal data should be respected as the European treaty on human rights states, it is now up to the Council of State to rule in the four cases.