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European Parliament opposes plan to fingerprint all MEPs for a "biometric attendance register"




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A large majority of Members of the European Parliament have 
opposed the Parliament’s plans to register their presence by processing
their fingerprints. By 420:202:15 votes they called on the Bureau to
"develop an alternative solution that does not involve the processing of
biometric data".[1] For example, an electronic attendance register could
rely on Member's badges or their mobile phones, and it could come with
random and periodic checks by human monitoring.

In the past, there has been some harsh criticism of plans by the
European Parliament‘s Bureau to fingerprint all Members of Parliament
[2] in order to register their presence. Following up on complaints, the
European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) is called into doubt the
legality of the scheme. In a set of recommendations[3] released in
March 2021 the EDPS told the Parliament leadership it needs to justify
why it considers the risk of impersonations for a badge-based system is
„more than a fringe occurrence“ and whether such fraud has ever occurred
while a badge-based system was being tested. Parliament also needs to
look into alternative solutions that rely on Members‘ mobile phones.

By plotting to fingerprint all Members, the Parliament‘s leadership
wanted to place all of us under a general suspicion of fraudulently
asking other people to register and claim attendance allowances –
without citing a single occurrence of such fraud during the test of a
badge-based system“, states Breyer. „

I am pleased that the Members of the European Parliament are speaking out so strongly against this unnecessary and likely unlawful biometric fingerprinting. We shall not
allow large-scale processing of biometrics to become a new normality.“


The Article 29 data protection group stated that, as a
general rule, the use of biometrics cannot be regarded as a legitimate
interest for securing access to buildings. According to the European
Data Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowsk „the EDPS did not
consider proportionate the use of biometric systems for monitoring staff
members’ working time and leave. We considered the processing of
biometric data was not necessary in relation to the purpose, because
such purpose could be achieved with less intrusive means, such as by
signing in, using attendance sheets, or using clocking in systems via
magnetic badges.“[4]

Breyer also refers to an EDPS publication on "14 misunderstandings with
regard to biometric identification and authentication".[5]





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