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Driving license biometrics could form pan European ‘perpetual police line-up’: Statewatch

Post-Brexit British drivers would also be included in the Prüm II biometric network
Driving license biometrics could form pan European ‘perpetual police line-up’: Statewatch

Any holder of an EU driving license will have their details and biometric information and photograph added to a pan-EU network of police facial recognition systems if plans by the Council of the European Union go ahead, reports monitoring organization Statewatch.

This would make license holders available for cross-border searches which would make them part of a ‘perpetual line-up,’ according to Statewatch, using the term coined by researchers at Georgetown University in the U.S. who found that half of all American adults are in a law enforcement facial recognition network.

From Prüm I to Prüm II

The move would be made possible by an addition to the text of a new security law, Prüm II.

The original Prüm framework regulates the exchange of certain data and biometrics including DNA and fingerprints as well as vehicle registration data.

In December 2021 the European Commission proposed more efficient collaboration for EU police forces including increased facial recognition data-sharing. Proposed changes would allow cross-border arrests in a chase, and a central ‘router’ to act as a pan-EU data conduit. The proposals did not include driving license data. The suggestions were met with outcry from privacy campaigners who said that they would remove the safeguards of a legitimate reason being needed to share sensitive data across borders.

Now, as well as the connecting of police facial image databases, driving license data could also be pooled. And according to Statewatch, “Various secretive working groups that laid the groundwork for the [December 2021] proposal also considered the possibility of including other types of data, such as that from identity or civil registration databases. These, so far, remain out of the text.”

The Council of the EU’s updated text appears to approve the inclusion of driving license sharing and certain member states have already come out in favor of sharing the data, including Sweden. However, Sweden’s delegation has nonetheless questioned the legality of the proposal over its proportionality.

UK drivers could also have their biometrics shared

As the UK is still part of the Prüm framework after Brexit, and has the option to join Prüm II (without Parliamentary scrutiny) as per the terms of its Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the bloc, UK driving license holders could also be included in the database sharing.

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