A number of citizens go to the Constitutional Court under the name ‘Ministry of Privacy’. They want the law on fingerprints on the eID to be reversed.
From April, anyone applying for a new eID must also register two fingerprints. A measure that was voted in November at the request of N-VA, then still in the government, to prevent identity fraud.
But the measure can count on quite a bit of protest. Privacy law specialist Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert previously announced an objection and today filed a petition with the Constitutional Court. He does this on behalf of the The Ministry of Privacy foundation, where the proceeds from the crowdfundingcamapgne are also included.
The case is defended by lawyer Geert Lenssens from SQ Law. Both he and Dobbelaere-Welvaert see various problems with the law, mainly that they are disproportionate.
Lenssens: “The basic problem of this law is that all citizens and even minors from the age of 12 are in fact ‘criminalized’. Everyone associates fingerprinting with the criminal environment. Former minister Jan Jambon (N-VA) got his inspiration before the law apparently in Morocco and – although a beautiful country – we have a very different legal and social culture here: the Belgian does not want to be considered the first criminal and does not just want to give his fingerprints to the government.
“What we see generally is a tendency among certain politicians to jeopardize our fundamental rights,” says Dobbelaere-Welvaert. “Fundamental rights such as the prohibition of discrimination, freedom of expression, freedom of association and, above all, the right to privacy are constantly under pressure. What was evident until a few years ago is now under discussion.”
Lenssens and Dobbelaere-Welvaert point out that there are a lot of carelessness in the law. For example, fingerprints are not permanently kept in a central database, but they can be stored there for up to three months. But there is nothing to prevent authorities from re-reading the eID at every contact and extending it again for three months.
There are also risks involved if that database is hacked. Finally, they also point out that fingerprints still have a margin of error which can lead to identity changes, while the law wants to prevent that with the measure.
Lenssens: “Statistics show that the majority of identity frauds without an eID are committed via the internet. The imbalance, on the other hand, lies in the fact that citizens must provide essential biometric information in exchange for an illusion of better security.”
In the meantime, Europe is also arguing for fingerprint tracking on the identity card, although there is no law yet at European level. “That is of course not good news, but we are prepared for it. The petition that we have now written can partly be reused to possibly be used at European level,” Dobbelaere-Welvaert told Data News.
“The plan is to continue the campaign with “Stopvingerafdruk” at the European level. That legislation is not yet there, but the same arguments apply to us as at the national level. We prepare ourselves for a decision at European level is taken. “
To continue the legal struggle, possibly in its own country and in the long term European, Ministry of Privacy continues with its crowdfunding campaign. To date, this raised 20,880 euros from 704 individual donors. In addition, Dobbelaere-Welvaert hopes that privacy and human rights organizations, both in Belgium and abroad, also want to support the initiative.