French Gov’t Orders Creation of National Biometric Database

The French government has introduced a new executive order mandating the creation of a national biometric ID database, reports Ars Technica UK.

French Gov't Orders Creation of National Biometric DatabaseThe system will contain standard biographic information of French citizens as well as the biometric data contained on citizens’ passports and identity cards, though it won’t contain the biometric data of children under 12 years of age. As Ars Technica reports, the government has framed the database as a means of authentication and not identification, though police and intelligence agencies can use it for identification purposes in pursuit of national security interests.

It could well be used to such ends, given the multiple high-profile terror attacks on French soil in recent months and years. But its authentication applications could be of use, too, if France chooses to emulate in some form the example of India’s Aadhaar program, in which biometric identification is increasingly used to administrate citizens’ access to civil services. And with France’s calls on the European Union to impose biometric border screening, it could be used to validate the identity of anyone entering the country and claiming to be a French citizen.

Still, the legislation could face some hurdles. A similar effort brought in by a previous government was ruled unconstitutional, though that was largely on the basis of its use for identification – an issue the new government is evidently seeking to avoid. But with this new measure having been passed by government decree, without debate, on a national holiday, it may ironically end up coming under even harsher scrutiny from wary critics.

Source: Ars Technica

November 7, 2016 – by Alex Perala