European Commission proposes requiring biometric data on all ID cards

The European Commission has proposed that identity cards for EU citizens be required to include biometric images in order to limit the use of fraudulent documents by criminals and extremists, Reuters reports.

The proposal would not require countries to produce ID cards, but would standardize the inclusion of two fingerprint images and a facial image on new ID cards, with old ones phased out over a five-1year period.

“Today, we are stepping up our actions to deprive criminals and terrorists of the tools and resources they need to perpetrate their crimes,” Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in a statement.

There are 80 million Europeans with ID cards that cannot be read by machines, and do not include biometric images, the Commission estimates.

Member of European Parliament from Germany’s Green Party, Jan Philipp Albrecht, dismissed the proposal as a violation of civil rights that would not prevent future terrorist attacks. “Even fingerprints can be forged and terrorist assassins and their henchmen regularly obtain weapons and financial means without presenting an identity card,” he said.

ID cards vary between EU member nations. Spain’s new ID cards include fingerprints, Belgium’s include biometrics but not fingerprints, and Germans can choose whether to include fingerprints data on their ID cards.

Greece was recently reported to be preparing a tender for biometric ID cards.

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