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Mandatory fingerprinting of children in South Korea faces backlash

Mandatory fingerprinting of children in South Korea faces backlash

Legislation introduced in April by a group of South Korea lawmakers to allow the government to collect and retain fingerprints of children aged four and younger without consent of their parents is being called unconstitutional by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). According to a Korea Times reports the NHRC says the measure is too excessive a restriction on a child’s rights to self-determination.

The reasoning behind the legislation is to help authorities locate missing and abducted children but the NHRC says the benefits of implementing the system do not outweigh the need to protect individual rights to self-determination. “The government’s move to collect and preserve the personal data of children without parental consent is too excessive an execution of authority, against the Constitutional principle to limit its exercise of power to a minimum after weighing the need to protect public safety and security.”

The law currently allows police to collect and retain fingerprints of children under 18 years of age with parental consent. The government database currently stores fingerprints and photos of over 3.5 million children under 18, over 81,000 patients with mental disabilities and over 62,000 patients with dementia, accounting for 39.8 percent of the over 9.3 million citizens subject to mandatory fingerprint registration.

In Europe this week the European Parliament and Council negotiators agreed to updated rules intended to reinforce the EURODAC system, which includes a proposal to lower the age for obtaining fingerprints and face photos of minors from 14 to 6 years.

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