Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Warnings Over Biometric Passports

MEP warns of risk from big brother technology
Oct 13 2004
Birmingham Post

High-tech passports which record iris prints and fingerprints on computer chips could be open to abuse, a Midland MEP has warned.The European Union has announced plans to introduce the new biometric passports, which contain detailed personal information, across all member states.The move was welcomed yesterday by MEP Michael Cashman (Lab West Midlands), but he warned that safeguards were essential.Mr Cashman is a member of the European Parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, which conducted an investigation into the proposals.In a report published yesterday it concluded that biometrics will help to make our documents more secure but warned: "Several requirements protecting citizens' rights have to be met before bio-metric passports are issued".Mr Cashman said: "By making it almost impossible to forge passports and ensuring that the person in question is who they say they are, biometrics have a huge potential to help in the ongoing fight against organised crime, terrorism and illegal immigration."But biometrics also have the potential to be seriously abused. We should not, for instance, go down the road of creating a centralised EU database of passports containing everybody's biometric data."The personal information that is collected must be for the specific purpose of verifying that the document is genuine and that the holder is who they claim to be."It should not be used for any other reason, particularly hidden surveillance, and biometrics must not creep into our daily lives via the commercial world."