The Guardian reports that
"Passport applicants must give fingerprints
Preparation for ID cards goes ahead without parliament
Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Tuesday April 12, 2005
Ministers are to press ahead with the mandatory fingerprinting of new passport applicants using royal prerogative powers to sidestep the loss of their identity card legislation last week.
How can these "royal prerogative powers" sidestep the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act ?
If the Identity Cards Bill had been passed, then as Primary Legislation, it could have triggered the exemptions "in accordance with law"
The police are expected to be given the authority to carry out checks against this newly created national fingerprint database.
How can this possibly be legal ?
What possible excuse is there to force people to be fingerprinted against their will, if they have committed no crime ?
Until an Identity Cards Bill is enacted forcing Compulsion, there must always be the option to get or renew a passport without having to submit any Biometric Identifiers to a Centralised Database.
The home secretary Charles Clarke has authorised the passport service to acquire 70 new passport service offices across the country so that all adult applicants for new documents can be interviewed in person from next year. The service currently has seven offices.
The Home Office admits that the new network could also be used in future as identity card enrolment centres and the introduction of mandatory fingerprinting of passport applicants will form an important "building block" for the future ID card scheme.
Ministers have already made clear that the police will be allowed to conduct routine checks of fingerprints found at the scene of a crime against this new fingerprint database.
Even if the case is made for fingerprints to be used as an anti-forgery device, there is no need for them to be held on a central database, they could be encoded on the Passport chip itself, Digitally Signed, and stored nowhere else .
Why is this option not even being discussed ?
Civil liberty campaigners fear that, with 80% of British citizens holding a passport, the new fingerprint database will open up the potential of routine identity checks using fingerprint scanners, whether or not the individual is carrying a passport at the time.
It had been expected that the government's failure to get legislation paving the way for a national identity card scheme onto the statute book before the general election would at least have delayed the project.
But ministers have confirmed in correspondence that they are to press ahead despite the lack of parliamentary authority because passports are issued under the royal prerogative rather than legislation.
What about the right to free travel under the European Union and United Nations conventions which the UK has signed up to ?
By the end of this year all new passports issued to first time adult applicants and those whose passports have been lost or stolen will include a chip containing a digital image of the normal passport photo. This will not involve applicants going in person to a passport office.
But from next year the 600,000 a year new adult applicants will no longer be able to apply by post and will have to present themselves for a personal interview at the new passport offices where they will also be fingerprinted.
Confirmation that this will be quickly extended to the 5 million people renewing their passports every year is contained in the HM passport service's corporate and business plan for 2005-2010.
It shows that the new national fingerprint database will build up at a rapid rate. A £415m funding boost to the passport service to introduce these new "biometric passports" has already been agreed with the Treasury."
Even the wretched Identity Cards Bill contained some attempts to protect individuals privacy along with the backsides of various petty officials and politicians.
How can any of these "protections" and "exemptions" apply to "Royal Prerogative" edicts ?
Is this story just a typical New Labour "leak" to test the temparature of the opposition, or are they seriously trying to sneak this in so undemocratically ?