Fingerprints in European passports legal: EU court

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 17, 2013 7:34 AM

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's highest court rejected on Thursday a German man's challenge to the inclusion of his fingerprints in his passport, saying such data helped to prevent identity fraud and to curb illegal immigration.

EU rules requiring newly issued biometric passports to include fingerprints came into effect in 2004, though a full rollout has taken many years. They apply to all EU member states except Britain and Ireland.

"The contested measures pursue... the general interest objective of preventing illegal entry into the EU," the European Court of Justice said in a statement.

"To that end, they are intended to prevent both the falsification of passports and the fraudulent use thereof," the Luxembourg-based court said.

Illegal immigration has become a hot political issue in the 28-nation EU. Migrants make almost daily attempts to cross the Mediterranean, often on flimsy, overcrowded vessels, from North Africa to Europe in search of a better life.

Facing similar problems, the United States has installed high-tech systems to track the movement of immigrants and other foreigners at airports, including taking photographs and fingerprints.

In Britain, an independent report recently recommended the fingerprinting of thousands of immigrants caught trying to enter the country.

(Reporting By John O'Donnell, editing by Gareth Jones)