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26.05.2011

Moving closer to biometric passports?

   

 

Prominent members of government, Radio Svoboda reports, are saying that Ukraine should introduce biometric passports by the end of 2011. The Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA] says that such biometric passports are a prerequisite for Schengen visa restrictions being waived for Ukrainians.

Oleh Boichenko from the MIA Department on Citizenship, Migration and Registration of Individuals says that it is not yet clear what biometric data will be contained in the new passports. This could be information about the retina, form of the ear or facial shape. Most probably the passport will have a chip containing the person’s fingerprints.

The initiator of the draft law which would be need to introduce these passports, Valery Konovalyuk, says that it has every chance of being passed this year. He calls it a major step towards implementing the plan on European integration and a visa-free regime.

Another National Deputy and former Head of Interpol in Ukraine, Kyrylo Kulikov also believes that biometric data should be introduced but is sceptical that such a norm is a requirement.  He stresses that there is no sign of any tenders to do this work and says that the State must provide this service.

Meanwhile the Cabinet of Ministers has already allocated the MIA 60 million UAH for the first phase of work on introducing passports with biometric data.

Human rights groups are concerned. They warn that information from biometric passports can end up in the hands of criminals. Yevhen Zakharov says that any database can be hacked and used for different ends, and the Law on Personal Data Protection will not be worth the paper it’s written on.

“One is dealing with a chip and it is totally unclear what specific information will be stored; if at present they insert in the passport the more official tax number which is supposed to only be used by tax officials, and in Ukraine they’ve made it into a general ID number under which information is gathered in literally all state registers. The State bodies are able within 20 seconds to gather person data about anybody which is held in these registers. Now, imagine a person who has some bad motives (wants, for example, to stell something) and he receives such an opportunity”.

Abridged from the report at http://www.radiosvoboda.org/content/article/24186897.html

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