No more national fingerprint database?

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at

Fingerprints taken for biometric passports will - temporarily - not be stored in a national database. Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner will debate the question in parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

Support for creating a national database has weakened recently. The pro-free market VVD - the largest party in the coalition – was originally in favour of storing fingerprint data, but has now joined the opposition Labour Party and Christian Union in opposing the passport law.

VVD MP Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said doubts about the system’s reliability, error margin and potential for manipulation have led her party to reconsider their stance. The Socialist Party, the democrat D66, Green Left and the Animal Rights Party have opposed the central database from the outset.

All newly-issued Dutch passports contain a chip carrying the holder's fingerprints. The feature is aimed at preventing identity fraud. The EU harmonised security standards after the US threatened to require visas for EU visitors unless biometric identifiers – a facial image and a fingerprint – were included in their passports.

Wednesday’s parliamentary debate is centred on the data storage, not on the issue of whether to embed the information in a passport, which has also faced much criticism.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide