The Privacy Commission has opposed keeping fingerprints for 20 years

The Privacy Commission has opposed a change in the legislation on the automated handling of personal data collected through Belgian passport applications.

The change would have seen the applicant’s fingerprints being kept on file for 20 years.

The proposed modification to the 2015 law on the automated handling of personal data required for Belgian passports and travel documents was drawn up by the Foreign Affairs SPF.

It said the passport holder’s fingerprints could be kept in the automated system for 20 years, to combat fraud. They requested it because facial recognition software is not advanced enough to efficiently compare a current photograph with that on previous document applications.

“The Commission thinks that keeping the fingerprints long term would have consequences for a large percentage of the Belgian population, seeing as hundreds of thousands of passports are sent out every year”, it said. Also, it sees it as “the indirect creation of a fingerprint database involving a large percentage of the Belgian population, which has nothing to do with fraudsters”, it said in its report.

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