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Biometric Passports Agreed To In EU 217

Posted by samzenpus
from the look-into-the-scanner dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The European Parliament has signed up to a plan to introduce computerized biometric passports including people's fingerprints as well as their photographs, despite criticism from civil liberties groups and security experts who argue that the move is flawed on technical grounds. (Back in 2005 Sweden and Norway began deploying biometric passports.)"
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Biometric Passports Agreed To In EU

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  • What could possibly go wrong?
  • dumb sheep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swiper (1336263) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:51AM (#26462035)
    Oh great, Just because the US has them, we have to get them as well, despite the very vocal criticism there has been....what a bunch of blind and deaf sheep we have as eurocrats!
    • Re:dumb sheep (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:58AM (#26462115)

      You know, there are European Parliament elections this summer! This time make sure you go to vote the MEP that will truly represent you and your views. Democracy just don't happens. Oil just don't come out from the pump. Your e-mail just does not sit in the "cloud". People make things happen. Democracy functions as long as people vote. We've seen democracy failing too many times (e.g. 1933 in Deutschland). So get involved, is so simple!

      • Re:dumb sheep (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashBLUEdot.org minus berry> on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:45AM (#26462381)

        Yeah, as if choosing one of a set of crooks would actually solve anything...

        What we need is a good old revolution. And I mean one with a new form of government following it.

        I propose metagovernment.org [metagovernment.org], for lack of a better form of it (for lack of having time to create one myself. :( ).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Revolutions just bring a fresh group of crooks that also have guns. Voting is not the only way to have your say in democracy's. In fact i would claim its the least important. Many democracy's have all sorts of things you can to stop or change laws at local levels and higher. For example in NZ if you can get a petition with 10% of the registered votes there must be a referendum on the issue. I do know there are many things in place in most EU counties that are similar.

          However if voting is too much effort the

        • Re:dumb sheep (Score:4, Interesting)

          by MindKata (957167) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @07:39AM (#26463871) Journal
          "I propose metagovernment.org [metagovernment.org], for lack of a better form of it"

          metagovernment sounds like a very interesting idea, but I suspect some groups of people will (choose to) interpret it differently, then we will end up with some groups using it (and gaming it) for their own gain.

          A similar concept, (but much harder to game), is something called a "Demarchy". It can be thought of as a stochastically sampled Democracy. (It removes the need for career politicians and so also removes the potential for corrupt career politicians using and gaming the system for their own gain).

          Imagine if you random choose say 1% the population and for one month, they vote on how to run the country. Its effectively like being chosen for jury service, where for one month, your vote (instead of career politicians votes), decides how to run the country. The point is, 1% of the population is a large enough number of people, to prevent corruption becoming a major biasing factor (certainly far less likely than is possible now). Its also not so dissimilar to the concept we have used for centuries in jury trials, but in this case, the jury is vastly larger (so its a much better sampling quantity).

          With a sampling rate of 1% of the population, then statistically once ever 100 selections you have a chance of being randomly chosen to run the country, (so on average once every about 8 years on average). If the country chooses to sample at say 4% of the population, then it means everyone gets randomly chosen on average about every 2 years. So a suitable sampling amount is somewhere between about 1% and 4% of a population. (Plus by randomly sampling the population, no group can be profiled to workout if and how to game that group (by for example, waiting for a group more statistically more favorable to be in power) before they get to vote on something. Also, it wouldn't be a sudden change of everyone once per month. It would be new people being prepared to start each day, while others ending their month long run of government, so everyones starts and ends on different days of the month, and so its smoothly distributed, instead of sudden changes of groups of people).

          The concept of Demarchy is literally a stochastically sampled Democracy, which cuts out the political middle men. People vote not for middle men, they vote as the middle men once did. Centuries ago, such a system wasn't possible, due to the paper work needed for dealing with so many votes, but with modern technology, its entirely possible, plus then we don't need the career politician middle men anymore. Their archaic system of government and arrogant corruption can finally be consigned to the history books.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Zerth (26112)

            Its effectively like being chosen for jury service, where for one month, your vote (instead of career politicians votes), decides how to run the country.

            .

            Except instead of deciding what happens to someone else, you are deciding what happens to yourself. Most people would vote for their self interest and would have neither weight of public opinion nor the desire to be re-elected to counterbalance their extremes. That might end up worse than politicians, which is pretty hard to do.

            None of us is as dumb as al

          • by Inda (580031)
            I like this idea. It could all be done online too. Maybe using type of message board or forum where everyone posts but only a select number get to vote. Maybe the voting options could be Normal, Offtopic, Flaimbait, Troll, Redun...
        • by Shakrai (717556)

          What we need is a good old revolution

          That might be tough since none of you are allowed to have guns ;)

          • That might be tough since none of you are allowed to have guns ;)

            Why should one need to enforce its voice with a weapon in a democracy?

            So a wellfounded idea, supported by a majority and thus forced into practice should be enforced by voilence in order to be able to call it a revolution?

            When the prior structure tears down and law is not abided with anymore as those in power are taken from it, who will abide to the law at that moment? If you envision a fight between those in power and those trying take it f

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by N1AK (864906)
            Because that will really scare the tank, aircraft, warship, satellite and reaper drone operating military of your goverment. I have no issue with Americans being allowed to own guns, but are many of you really niave enough as to think gun ownership has any effect on goverment behaviour?
            • by Shakrai (717556)

              Because that will really scare the tank, aircraft, warship, satellite and reaper drone operating military of your goverment.

              Yeah, when has a ragtag force armed mostly with rifles ever [wikipedia.org] been able to cause grief for a modern military force......

              but are many of you really niave enough as to think gun ownership has any effect on goverment behaviour?

              *shrug*, I was mainly making a bad joke. I would posit a question though: Do you think that genocides/ethic cleansing campaigns like we've seen carried out in the Balkens or in Africa by ragtag militias really could have been carried out as easily if the oppressed population had been armed?

          • That might be tough since none of you are allowed to have guns ;)

            Where do you get that strange idea?

            Hint - the UK is not the only country in the EU.

            • by Shakrai (717556)

              Where do you get that strange idea?

              Apparently the wink at the end of my remark wasn't sufficient indication that I was being a wiseass. Next time I'll use the <sarcasm> tags......

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            The cops mostly don't carry them there either; just walk en masse into every police station at the same time, requires some organization, but just stuff it with people and the police are paralyzed (can't get to the weapons.) You will need to paralyze HQs at the same time. All you need is a mass of bodies to avoid BECOMING nothing more than a mass of dead bodies. But the people have to get onto the same page at the same time, and convincing them that it's all gone to hell probably won't happen until they sta

        • Re:dumb sheep (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MoogMan (442253) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @08:17AM (#26464089)

          A metagovernment/open source government is majoritarianism. Effectively, this means little or no rights for the minority.

        • by westlake (615356)
          What we need is a good old revolution. And I mean one with a new form of government following it

          The revolution in Europe tends to end in terror and the charismatic despot who promises to restore order.

          The Twentieth Century brought many such men into power -

          and the young technocrats - the primal-geeks of The New Order - into power along with him.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by N1AK (864906)
          I fail to see how this is a remotely better solution. Sometimes the fact representatives choose to do something that is not popular with the majority is a good thing. Going by even unbiased opinion polls the UK would have Biometric ID if we were a pure democracy so I fail to see how privacy is improved by this change.

          Now if you could come up with a secure and open form of meritocracy you might be onto something.
      • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @04:23AM (#26462887)

        If voting,be sure to check out these impressive tools to help make an informed choice in the European Parliament elections.
        http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Political_Memory [laquadrature.net]

        http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Campaign-Save_amendment_138_and_Internet_Freedom_from_Council_of_EU#General_Advice [laquadrature.net]

        For example can sort by amendment 138, see who was against:
        http://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/Telecoms_package_directives_1st_reading_details_by_score [laquadrature.net]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Democracy functions as long as people vote.

        Total Nonsense.

        Democracy is only the illusion of freedom. Given it takes around 30% and never more than 50% to get voted in candidates only need to convince the dumpiest 30% to 50% of voters.

        It's tyranny of those who manipulate the stupid over everyone else.

      • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @04:56AM (#26463033)

        It just seems that who ever I vote for, some idiot politician gets elected anyway ...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by nomad-9 (1423689)
        "Democracy functions as long as people vote. "

        No, it does not. Not when your options are restricted to choosing between people with no *real* differences.

        "Democracy" is an illusion, it has been reduced to choosing from a preset pool of incompetent bureaucrats, who pretend to be different from one another by over-blowing their slight nuances of policy.

      • Re:dumb sheep (Score:5, Insightful)

        by VShael (62735) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @05:39AM (#26463245) Journal

        This time make sure you go to vote the MEP that will truly represent you and your views.

        Wow! Is there an Oscar, or a Nobel Prize for naivety? If so, you have my vote.

        The Commission of the EU is unelected. They were all found guilty of corruption a few years ago, and collectively stood down. Only to stand right back up again. Corruption pervades the EU Parliament. It was designed to make sure it could not hold the (even more) corrupt EU Commission to account.

        And good luck finding ANY MEP that represents your view if you're a Euro-sceptic. They don't exist.

        Even in a multi-party system, you will still get situations where every elected official speaks in unison, and the "Opposition" is an opposition in name only. It happens all the time, whether in the run up to the Iraq war in England (when the Conservatives couldn't wait to kiss Tony Blair's arse) or in the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland (where all the parties said to vote Yes, except for sinn fein, the terr^H^H^H^H ex-terrorist party.)

        The only solution is to stand for office yourself, and again, the system is designed in such a way that that can't happen unless you're wealthy. (Not just rich, but wealthy.) And as Declan Ganley of the newly founded Libertas party is finding out, even then, the establishment does it's best to ridicule you, destroy you, and keep you out of their little game.

        • by Carewolf (581105)

          Ehmm.. Not only are there EU-skeptic and even EU-hostile parties in the EU parliament, they even have their own group. If you don't like the EU there are parties to vote for, and they are large enough to stall and generally make things worse.

        • Re:dumb sheep (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DrXym (126579) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @10:27AM (#26465167)
          And good luck finding ANY MEP that represents your view if you're a Euro-sceptic. They don't exist.

          MEPs are voted by the general public. If the general public wanted a Euro-sceptic MP they would vote one in. As it happens, UKIP gained 12 seats in the European parliament and the Mouvement pour la France has seats too. I'm quite sure there are Euro-sceptic MEPs representing other countries too. In other words there is a significant representation of Euro sceptics and your statement is complete bollocks.

          And since you mention Libertas... for the benefit of bystanders, Libertas is a private group pushing a No vote in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treay. To that end they stuck up thousands of posters with scary (and often absurd) reasons that people should vote No. What is not known about Libertas is how they got their funding, but there are strong suspicions that it was from US defence contractors and other interests. The group's founder Declan Ganley also just happens to be CEO of a US defence contract firm. So here we have an individual with strong US military & financial links interfering with a national referendum and an EU treaty. If you think MEPs are corrupt and that Libertas is the shining light of purity you really have no clue at all.

          You have to laugh in hindsight that the No vote was primarily driven by this organisation and the Socialist Workers Party. That's some unholy alliance. Somebody even (possibly another rabid No fringe group) stuck stickers all over Dublin saying to vote No because babies would be microchipped otherwise. What isn't so funny is that such tactics actually worked.

      • When it's time to vote, the choice is always between a douche and a turd. (I forget which South Park episode this was in).

        This time make sure you go to vote the MEP that will truly represent you and your views.

        I don't recall seeing a box labelled "None of the above" on any ballot.

        • by mspohr (589790)
          The state of Nevada in the US has an option for none of the above on every ballot. (sometimes 'none' wins).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tsa (15680)

      You're so right. The EU has no backbone whatsoever. America is our friend, so we must do everything to please it. Disgusting. Someone said Merkel is bad, well, the NL PM Jan Peter Balkenende is much much worse. He couldn't wait to go to Iraq to please his buddy George. And now that that turned out to be maybe not such a good idea, he doesn't want a public investigation. Coward. We have the worst government we ever had. I wish I lived in Belgium since they don't have a government there.

      • Re:dumb sheep (Score:5, Interesting)

        by irae (1152885) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @03:51AM (#26462753)

        I wish I lived in Belgium since they don't have a government there.

        As my Belgian friend said, Belgium is the best example that a government isn't necessary.

        • by VShael (62735)

          As my Belgian friend said, Belgium is the best example that a government isn't necessary.

          But a near 70% income tax rate is still necessary to pay for ... what exactly?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by brabo_sd (1279536)
            Maybe we pay all those taxes for one of the best social security systems in the world? If you lose your job, the government gives you money.. not altogether that much, but at least just enough to survive. Rather not pay a lot of taxes? Think at the downside of that... no good medical assurances.. no serious unemployment money.. Put like this, I actually prefer to pay taxes, I like to share what I have with those less fortunate.
            • by Shakrai (717556)

              Think at the downside of that... no good medical assurances.. no serious unemployment money

              I can think of a downside of what you've got now. "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have."

            • by jgtg32a (1173373)
              Then give to charity
    • by golodh (893453)
      Perhaps some of the more uninformed posters would do well to realise that the EU *only* went for biometric passports to comply with the demands of the US Visa Waiver Programme.

      The EU was given a choice between biometric passports and having all of their citizens apply for visa when traveling to the US. For some reason they thought it that staying within the Visa waiver programme was more important than putting their citizen's fingerprints on rfid chips in their passports.

      Given the importance of the US i

    • by bconway (63464)

      Newsflash: The US doesn't have them. Nor do all passports have RFID (the new one I received last week doesn't). Don't believe all the media hype, it exists to scare you and get page clicks.

  • by upuv (1201447) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:55AM (#26462063) Journal

    Actually two betting Pools.

    How Long before all the data is on torrent?

    Which country will have the offending sloppy official?

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:55AM (#26462069)

    To put up a fence to keep me out? Or to keep mother nature in?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2009 @01:56AM (#26462077)

    are belong to US, I mean EU.

    • by biocute (936687)

      It's okay if your fingerprints are belong to you, but not when it's belong to us.

    • No no... you're right. They belong to the USA. Because that's who owns most of the European leaders.

      Merkel at least. Despite not being the backrub kind, she very much likes to go deep and hard up the ass of Bush. ;)
      She even imitates his views and behavior.

      Our Cheney is Schäuble, by the way. Mix Cheney's mind with that of some Gestapo-leader with an obsession for control, add a wheelchair, some hair and an evil look, remove some fat, and you got him. All he needs is a fluffy cat and an iron glove (or be

  • by gavanm (79661) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:00AM (#26462129)

    People with no hands would obviously be exempt from the new fingerprint-based biometric passport system. Instead, they would have to apply for temporary, 12- month passports in order to travel, the MEPs agreed.

    I can see this being popular with advocacy groups....

    Especially when many non-EU countries are reluctant to welcome people with less than 6 months left on their passports. In effect many will have to apply for a temporary passport every 6 months.

    Stupidity at its best. If the passport biometrics indicate they have no hands, the it should be very easy to verify this.

    Either that or ask people for toe prints, or nose prints or stump prints.

    • by 4D6963 (933028) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:05AM (#26462153)

      Either that or ask people for toe prints, or nose prints or stump prints.

      Or better yet, face prints, also known by insiders as "photographs". Presents the advantage of being easily identifiable by anyone.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:38AM (#26462345)

        except the blind!

      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

        ``Or better yet, face prints, also known by insiders as "photographs". Presents the advantage of being easily identifiable by anyone.''

        We (Netherlands, an EU country) have those, too. And we're not allowed to smile on them anymore. The reason? The photographs are analyzed by computers, and the result of this analysis is stored on a chip on the passport. Then, when they want to identify you, they can do another face print, and match the result with what's on the chip. I'm told the process has a 5 to 10 perce

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:13AM (#26462201)

    I can't see this one going very far. Several of the most influential EU nations have general elections coming up within a year or two, centralised European power is already under the spotlight because of the way the Constitution^WReform Treaty was handled by diktat, and governments already lost at sea over the economic mess won't want to rock the boat any further.

    In the UK, in particular, I suspect the NO2ID anti-ID card campaign will pick this up in about ten seconds. At that point, it will become associated with the National Identity Register and National ID Card biometrics programmes, and become a political suicide pill.

    With a bit of luck, it'll finally bring down the catastrophe that is centrally dictated European policy, make us aware that we don't have to jump just because some guy at 1600 said so, and restore a little of the democracy we've had stolen from us in recent years along the way.

    • by nicklott (533496)

      The UK already has biometric passports, though the fingerprint and iris scan info is voluntary (currently).

      http://www.ips.gov.uk/passport/about-biometric-why.asp

      I wish ID cards were a political suicide pill. I really don't understand why both main parties are pushing ahead with them come what may. It's ridiculously expensive, impossible to enforce and hugely unpopular, so whats in it for them??

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I wish ID cards were a political suicide pill. I really don't understand why both main parties are pushing ahead with them come what may.

        One of us has got completely the wrong idea here: I thought the Tory lot had given a pretty much black-and-white statement that they would repeal the Identity Card legislation, and had consistently opposed the introduction of all the biometric nonsense from the start.

        Yep, here we go: ID cards on the Conservatives' web site [conservatives.com] is pretty clearly against them.

        • by daveime (1253762)

          Until they get into power, and then that promise will be forgotten along with all the others.

      • by drsmithy (35869) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .yhtimsrd.> on Thursday January 15, 2009 @05:09AM (#26463093)

        It's ridiculously expensive, impossible to enforce and hugely unpopular, so whats in it for them??

        Hugely unpopular ? ID cards only seem to be 'hugely unpopular' amongst a vocal minority, everyone else tends to fall into either the 'they will help us catch bad people' or, at most, the 'I've done nothing wrong, so I've got nothing to hide' camps.

      • by VShael (62735)

        so whats in it for them??

        Their bosses gratitude.

        (The identity of their masters is a matter of some debate. Insert favourite conspiracy meme. The Rothschilds, the Bankers, the illuminati, the Americans, big business, the Jews, the 4th Reich, Lizard people from beyond the 4th dimension, etc..)

    • by VShael (62735)

      Maybe it won't get far in the UK, but I'm afraid the rest of Europe (sadly Ireland included) will hop right aboard this.

      For example, in Belgium (where love of red-tape is a universal fetish) it is required by law for everyone to carry their ID papers at all times. You can be stopped and asked for your papers by the police at any time, without cause. And this is considered perfectly normal. As if Germany had actually won the war. (Vos papieren! Schnell!)

      The Germans will love something like this. The Belgians

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        For example, in Belgium (where love of red-tape is a universal fetish) it is required by law for everyone to carry their ID papers at all times. You can be stopped and asked for your papers by the police at any time, without cause. And this is considered perfectly normal. As if Germany had actually won the war. (Vos papieren! Schnell!) The Germans will love something like this.

        We already have this in Germany, for as long as I live (40 years now).I wrote the same in a similar thread here on /. a couple of

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      I think you overestimate the value E.U. citizens put on their privacy, and their resistance to governments collecting data about everyone. There is virtually none.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      In the UK, in particular,

      ...there is an automated surveillance camera on every corner, some of which can automatically respond to sights and sounds and alert the police that you MIGHT be doing something wrong.

      Big Brother is already watching you. You already lost. Of course, the only reason that's not true in the USA is that it's bigger (same reason for our poor broadband penetration. Net neutrality is the new way they try to ghettoize, rather than just not being able to get high speed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:19AM (#26462239)

    I thought fingerprinting was reserved for people in jail?

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      ``I thought fingerprinting was reserved for people in jail?''

      The question is not if it is, but if it should be. Should fingerprinting be done for everyone, for noone, or for certain groups of people?

  • Political? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by youknowjack (1452161) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:29AM (#26462287)

    This is almost certainly a political move; with terrorism being a scarier topic than privacy

    Nevertheless, the summary doesn't do justice to the article. The article suggests that experts agree the passports will be much harder to forge (impossible with current methods) - which is a big strength.

    In fact, the main argument against using biotech passports (in the article) is that authorities will begin to rely on them 'too much', which doesn't ring true to me, since biotech is inherently MORE reliable than, say, an official trying to identify someone by a small passport photo.

    I think the risk of misappropriation of bio-information is worth it, weighed up against the risk of terrorist or criminal activities which it seeks to mitigate.

    • Re:Political? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pjt33 (739471) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @04:42AM (#26462955)

      which doesn't ring true to me, since biotech is inherently MORE reliable than, say, an official trying to identify someone by a small passport photo.

      The point is that by removing the element of judgment in favour of something objective but possibly flawed you get a situation where people don't exercise judgment when the machine gets it wrong.

    • Political? Its aboutbback-handers and pocket lining. A Costco card is free with "biometric" picture on, but a govt card costs £70 so that the private contractors can be paid.

      Can you say "thieving bastards?" I thought you could!

    • Re:Political? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @06:00AM (#26463371) Homepage Journal

      ``I think the risk of misappropriation of bio-information is worth it, weighed up against the risk of terrorist or criminal activities which it seeks to mitigate.''

      Now this is how we should look at it. In most discussions, all I ever hear is "X is bad, because of Y" or "X is good, because of Z". Usually, both sides are right. But that's not what we want to know. We want to know, considering all the benefits and all the drawbacks, if we'd be better of with or without X.

      With the current generation of passports issued in the Netherlands, I am down on the "X is bad" side. This is because the government haven't done their homework (or they have and are trying to mislead us all). The chip that's on them allows anybody who wants to to read the information on it, and this can be done from a few meters away without us knowing about it, let alone consenting to it. Government publications say this is not the case, which I take to mean "that's not how we intended it". That's why I say, even if you are in favor of the government collecting the data that is on those chips, you should still be against the current generation of chips.

      Given that the government is lying about these chips, I think much closer scrutiny is warranted. What do they _really_ want to achieve, and what is _really_ being achieved? Also, I want my money back, because all of my money that has gone into implementing the current system has gone into a system that is, at best, dangerously flawed, and at worst intentionally dangerous. Both of which aren't something I want to pay for, nor even get for free.

      Underneath all this, however, is the important question of "suppose the system were implemented the government would have you believe it is, would it then be a Good Thing?" It will never be perfectly secure, but it can be a lot better than it is now. And I am convinced we can do better checking of people against passports with additional data stored on the passport than without it. My question is: how cost effective is it all? How much would it cost to implement a decent biometric identification system, and how much would that save us?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I think the risk of misappropriation of bio-information is worth it, weighed up against the risk of terrorist or criminal activities which it seeks to mitigate.

      This begs the question (really does) of whether the biometrics on the passport increase passport security.

      It's true that making the passport more expensive to fake does raise the bar. But all that means is that you filter out some petty criminals but do nothing to stop the high-end criminals who can afford that more important passport. So what this accomplishes is that it stops people from escaping the country for petty crimes, allowing you to incarcerate them (which in the USA produces money for private co

    • by jimicus (737525)

      Forget arguments against for now. It's something we don't have and will cost a lot of money, so what are the arguments for? What advantage does it offer the general population over the status quo?

      Reduce the risk of terrorist attacks? What, like the 9/11 hijackers who all had valid, legitimately issued passports?

      Reduce the risk of forgery? Maybe at borders where it's practical to fit sophisticated equipment to check, but what idiot carries around an obviously forged legal document on a regular basis any

  • Problems (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tdwMighty (1453161) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @02:39AM (#26462349) Homepage

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._passport#Biometric_passport [wikipedia.org]

    According to privacy advocates, the BAC and the shielded cover are ineffective when a passport is open, and that a passport may have to be opened for inspection in a public place such as a hotel, a bank, or an Internet cafe. An open passport is subject to illicit reading of chip data, such as by a government agent who is tracking a passport holder's movements or by a criminal who is intending identity theft.

    If this is true, then wont this just hurt the honest people and do nothing to stop "criminals"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)

      How much crime does a better passport stop, anyway?

  • A necessity (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lavene (1025400) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @03:02AM (#26462457)
    I think this is good since it helps stopping terrorists and pedophiles. Terrorists and pedophiles are constantly crossing the borders to terrorize us and molest our children. Terrorists and pedophiles. Terrorists and pedophiles.

    By giving up my privacy I help catch the terrorists and pedophiles. By registering my fingerprints and DNA I help catch the terrorists and pedophiles.

    The terrorists and pedophiles are everywhere. They must be stopped and in order to do so I must let the government read my e-mail, follow my web browsing, track my phone calls. It's the only way to stop the terrorists and pedophiles.

    By protesting you support the terrorists and pedophiles you damn pedophile terrorist. If you're not with your government you're with the terrorists and pedophiles.

    Terrorists! Pedophiles! Everywhere!!

    Must... give... fingerprint... to... stop... terrorists and pedophiles.

    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @03:11AM (#26462515)

      That's what a terrorists would say to deflect suspicion. Or a pedophile.

    • [...]pedophiles are constantly crossing the borders to [...] molest our children

      There's a distinction I think it's worthy to know, so I'm going to spell it out. Hopefully someone will benefit from this.

      • Pedophile: someone sexually attracted to or aroused by kids
      • Child Pornographer: someone producing porn that includes kids
      • Child Molestation: sexual activity with kids. Maybe one should throw "non-consenting" in there, maybe not. That's a finer point than what I'll argue.

      They're not the same. If you're a /Child [PM].*/, then typically you're also a pedophile, but not the other way around.

      I'm not here to defend any group in particular. Just to make the distinction clear.

      [I think children deserve to be protected by the legal system, but I also think that 17-year-olds should be allowed to film themselves having sex and show their pr0n to their friends. I'm for the rule of law, and against the rule of puritans. Ask me if you want to know all the nuances of my opinions.]

  • by dago (25724) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @03:29AM (#26462645)

    as the parlament changed the law to introduce biometric passports, a group of citizens sucessfully launched a referendum.
    As a result, they're going to vote on this in May, so this will be a good indicator as the people will directy decided.

    And before other people jump on the democracy aspect and representation in the EU, don't forget that many EU government/parlament (including mine) already introducted biometric passports and are directly elected.

    It will be also difficult to guess what the swiss result will be as they already 'confirmed' different EU decision in such referendums.

    • by VShael (62735) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @05:30AM (#26463195) Journal

      As I'm sure you know, Switzerland is not part of the EU.

      They are also a fantastic country to live in, because everyone is armed, and has done military service.

      It's the perfect example of "Government being scared of its people, not people being scared of their government"

      If the Swiss government ever tried to do the sort of crap you regularly see in the UK, Ireland or America, they'd be quickly taken out and shot.

      • by mspohr (589790)
        News in the local Swiss paper today had a picture of the new Swiss passport with (you guessed it) biometric RFID tag.
  • by scsirob (246572) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @04:21AM (#26462879)

    Most people in Europe are horrified by yet another intrusion into their privacy. This agreement is made by a group of people who do NOT speak for the majority of the population.

    And all this for the sake of the untangeable "war on terrorism". What a sick display of arrogance.

  • My mother had five sons. I was one of them. There were moments when she had the damndest time keeping our names straight. I once called my wife by an ex-girlfriend's name... well, that was in my head, but I refuse to call her anything but "honey" for fear that I might slip one day.

    Look people, these "government" people are just like our parents. They know what is best for us and want to take very good care of us. So what if they have a little trouble keeping up with our names and addresses and think th

  • AFAIK most european countries have had biometric passports for years. Certainly my (german) passport has an RFID tag with my photo's biometric information on it. More recent passports also include fingerprints.

    AFAIK, this is also mandated by the US, for any foreigners wishing to enter the country visa free (visa waiver program countries). A friend from switzerland told me (in 2007), that he was actually allowed to choose whether he wanted a normal passport or a biometric one (enabling travel to the US).

    So w

  • by var-tec (1391451)
    Most European countries already issue biometric passports. US and UK has been pushing really hard on this issue (US requirement for visa waiver programme). The problem is that they didn't care much about privacy. As an effect the data is poorly protected and what's even worse, accessible by RF. So now, to steal someone's identity, you don't even have to have physical access to his passport. Just get within 20-30cm.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's just a shame that even when there would be a referendum in Holland, government simply nullifies it because 'the people are not well-informed' or say it's only meant as a guideline.
    We only had one referendum and there we voted against a European Constitution. After that they never gave us the chance to vote for the new one and simply adopted it.
    Anyway, Whatever Dutch Parliament says, it's almost never representative of what the Dutch people think or want.

  • by carvalhao (774969) on Thursday January 15, 2009 @06:41AM (#26463549) Journal
    Interesting news, considering that Portugal, an EU member since 1986, has been issuing these EU biometric passports for some years now. Actually, nowadays you may even enter Portugal through a completely automated passport control.
  • ...27000+ officials that can issue a passport. It should be trivial to find a corrupt official in, say, Italy who will create a passport for you with the right biometrics. How is this going to make anyone safer?
  • I'm wondering if there's a way to get your fingerprints permanently removed without causing too much other serious damage. If you've got no fingerprints what are they going to do? If they refuse you a passport on those grounds then you'd likely have a good case in law.
    • Your fingers would be even more distinctive for not having normal fingerprints. It could help you in a crime scene situation because investigators would probably assume that it was only a smudge, but for the sake of biometric identification it would likely do more harm than good. In a sense, the absence of normal prints would become your fingerprint.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein

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