Saturday 11/28/20
LEGAL AMENDMENT

Finland intends to fingerprint applicants for identity cards

Fingerprints and facial images could be read by police departments and Finnish missions. In addition, the police, the Border Guard and Customs would have the right to read them when they carry out border checks.
Current version of a foreigner identity card. Image: Police.
Current version of a foreigner identity card. Image: Police.

On 5 November, the Government submitted to Parliament a draft government proposal to amend the Identity Card Act. The Identity Card Act will be updated as a result of the EU Regulation on identity cards.

A provision on fingerprinting supplementing the Regulation would be added to the Identity Card Act, the Ministry of the Interior said in a press release.

In Finland, fingerprints are already taken from passport applicants and stored in the passport register. Similarly, the Identity Card Act would include a provision on the storage of fingerprints in the identity card register.

In order to facilitate the use of services, fingerprints taken for the passport could be used to apply for an identity card and vice versa.

Government says there would be some exceptions: fingerprints would not be taken from people under 12 years of age or from people in respect of whom fingerprinting is physically impossible, for example. 

The EU Regulation will also reform the information content and appearance of identity cards. The aim of the Regulation is to improve the reliability and security of identity cards of EU citizens.

A biometric identifier

The Minister of the Interior explained that, when used as a biometric identifier, the fingerprint is a "permanent, immutable and irrevocable part of an individual."

Biometric identifiers set specific requirements for data security in order to ensure the protection of privacy. For this reason, provisions on data security related to the chip of an identity card would be laid down in the Identity Card Act.

Fingerprints and facial images are particularly sensitive data and they could be read by police departments and Finnish missions that issue identity cards. In addition, the police, the Border Guard and Customs would have the right to read them when they carry out border checks.

Prevent misuse of identities

According to the Ministry, the storage of fingerprints in the identity card register would not only protect the rights of the holder but also the rights of other persons to their personal data and their appropriate use: the storage of fingerprints in the register and the comparison of fingerprint data with the register aim to help prevent the misuse of identities.

The Act is scheduled to enter into force on 2 August 2021, at the same time as the application of the EU Regulation begins.

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