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European high court to examine use of biometric passports


A Dutch court recently asked the European high court whether EU regulations obliging member states to use biometric passports infringes rights to privacy.

The ruling will play an important role in determining the legality of including biometrics in passports and travel documents throughout the European Union.

The case has emerged because four Dutch passport applicants have refused to provide fingerprints for their travel documents. Since 2009, the Netherlands has made the submission of fingerprints in passports and identity cards mandatory.

Fingerprints are stored in a database to be used for investigation purposes, but recently, that storage has been suspended. The Dutch court referred the cases to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to determine whether such data should be safeguarded, and whether the fingerprints should be used for no other purpose than the issuance of a passport or identity card.

Similar cases have also been brought to European high court by Germany and Luxembourg.

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