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European Parliament trials fingerprint biometric time and attendance system

European Parliament trials fingerprint biometric time and attendance system

European Parliament will have a new biometric time and attendance system in place for a test at its Brussels facilities, EURACTIV reports. Some members are concerned about the technology’s privacy implications and proportionality.

The test follows approval from the Bureau of the European Parliament, which is made up of MEPs from different groups, to introduce a central attendance register using fingerprint biometrics. The system will allow MEPs to receive their daily allowance automatically, and eliminate the requirement for them to sign a long list of meeting room attendees.

Another proposed system based on registering Parliamentary badges has already been trialed and rejected as not optimal, as it does not provide assurance of the identity of the badge-holder.

The fingerprint recognition test is planned for a December launch, and a duration of around two months. European Parliament’s data protection officer was consulted on the system, a source tells EURACTIV, but the European Data Protection Supervisor, which oversees all EU institutions, said it had not been consulted.

MEPs from the Renew, Pirate, European United Left, and Green/EFA parties, as well as an independent member voiced concerns about the plan.

“In substance, I am not objecting to the Bureau’s decision to automate the Members’ attendance and plenary registers and the advantages that come with it, but I strongly object to fingerprinting all of us for that purpose,” Pirate MEP Patrick Breyer told EURACTIV. He suggested that rejecting the badge system on grounds that they could be shared placed all Members under suspicion.

European Parliament was also reported earlier this year to be considering the use of facial recognition to control physical access for improved MEP security, though Secretary General Klaus Welle denied that any such project had been undertaken.

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