Netherlands too quick with biometric passports

The Netherlands was too quick to introduce passports with fingerprints, resulting in a system which is not suitable to do the job it was meant to do – namely combating fraud, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday.


The paper bases its claims on a report commissioned by the home affairs ministry which will be presented to parliament this week.
Tests show that fingerprint readers get it wrong in at least 20% of cases, the paper states. Biometric passports are supposed to ensure an end to passport identity theft and reduce illegal immigration. The fingerprints were also to be used in police investigations.
Last year, the then-home affairs minister Piet Hein Donner was forced to abandon the central storage of fingerprints after it emerged senior civil servants had ignored warnings about privacy and security issues.
Professor Roel Bekker, who compiled the report, told the paper the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US pressured officials to take a quick decision on the new passports. Privacy arguments were not considered and technology was introduced before being properly tested, he said.