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Sinn Féin MEP rejects biometric identifiers on passports

27 October, 2004

Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald has co-signed a motion to the European Parliament which rejects the use of biometric data on identity documents such as passports. The motion comes in the wake of proposals to adopt biometrics across the EU.

Ms McDonald has raised concerns on biometrics in advance of November's meeting of the European Council.

Ms McDonald said:

'Sinn Fein is seriously concerned about huge risks with respect to data protection and privacy arising from the collection and use of biometric data. There are risks with what would be extremely large databases, risks in storage,access to and transmission of data. The issue of identity theft and abuse is also of considerable concern.

'Indeed biometric systems are never 100% accurate, even fingerprints will not be precise on several hundred thousand people in the EU.

'The proposal for biometric data to be adopted across the EU violates all common standards of appropriateness and subsidiary. Neither the European Commission nor the Council of Europe have adequately explained the necessity, function, efficiency or possible side-effects of including biometric identifiers in identity documents. They have not even provided detailed figures of the expected costs nor proposed a clear budget.

'It is Sinn Fein's view that biometrics do not increase security, as they do not link a person to a real identity, only to an identity established by an identity document. If the passport is false, however, the biometric identifier included on it can't change this.

'In light of all of this Sinn Fein will continue to oppose the use of biometric data on identity cards as an abuse of civil liberties as well as an unjustifiable waste of public money.' ENDS

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