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Sinn Féin MEP rejects Biometric Data on Passports

2 December, 2004

Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has today voted against a report calling for the use of biometrics in passports for citizens of EU member states.

Speaking after the vote, Ms McDonald said:

"Sinn Féin reject the general idea of introducing biometric identifiers in identity documents for several reasons:

"Firstly, we are seriously concerned about huge risks to data protection and privacy in what will be extremely large databases. Risks in storage, access to and transmission of data are not resolved, dangers of identity theft and abuse remain even if the data is only stored on a chip. Problems with multiple identities, interception of data transmissions and pro-active policing continue to exist. Biometric systems are never 100% accurate, even fingerprints will not be precise on several hundred thousand people in the EU.

"Secondly, the proposal violates all common standards of appropriateness and subsidiary. Until now, neither the Commission nor the Council have adequately explained the necessity, functionality, efficiency and probable 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!

"Finally, biometrics do not increase security, because they don't 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.

"Sinn Féin will continue to vigorously oppose this flagrant breach of citizens civil liberties. As part of this we opposed today's report." ENDS

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