The government of Estonia will soon be collecting fingerprints before issuing ID cards. Each person’s biometric information will then be stored on a chip on that card in much the same way that biometric information is currently stored on modern passports.
The new policy will go into effect on August 23. Estonia is making the change to comply with a new European Union regulation that requires member states to start issuing biometric IDs by the second half of 2021. Countries like Finland, Germany, and the Czech Republic have already released their own biometric identity offerings, while the law itself was passed in 2019.
Estonian identity cards that have already been issued will still be valid until their expiration date, so holders will not need to replace their cards until that time. However, citizens will need to visit a Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) service center to submit their fingerprints when they apply for a new one, unless they have previously submitted prints at any point in the last six years. If the government already has a valid set of prints, people can apply for (and receive) a new ID card from the comfort of their own home.
“The inclusion of biometrics in identity cards is an EU-wide agreement aimed at better-ensuring security and safety through more effective identity checks,” said Elen Kraavik, an adviser with the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department of the Ministry of the Interior. “The EU, including Estonia, supports the fight against identity fraud and forgery of identity documents. This is another step in the fight against crime.”
The news comes only days after the government of Estonia announced that it was searching for a new Mobile ID provider. The country is currently attempting to build a national biometric database, and the new ID cards will presumably advance those efforts.
Source: ERR News
August 16, 2021 – by Eric Weiss