back to article Fingerprints, facial scans, EU border data slurp too tasty for French to resist

French authorities want fingerprint and facial scans of everyone entering or leaving the EU. The proposal from the French delegation came as the European Commission puts more pressure on interior ministers to adopt its so-called “smart borders” package. The Commission plan is to set up a digital dragnet to monitor all non-EU …

  1. Dr Paul Taylor


    So all of these fingerprints will be copied into police databases, so that lazy PC Plod can sit at his desk and G**gle (there's another horrible thought!) the perpetrator of any misdemeanor, with the risk that some distant unconnected person will be nailed, instead of doing proper detective work.

    1. elDog

      Re: Fishing

      Ah, I thought you were about to go in a somewhat different direction...

      I can imagine a point in the near future when the fine technology that Google and others have brought forward, that this tech would allow any of us to present one or more fingerprints to the search engine and have it display the owner's anonymized information. Well, anonymized only enough to escape the fine print in the EU agreements.

      Perhaps, like photo/image recognition, the search results could just show where the owner's prints were last seen.

      Next, retinal scans, saliva, other bodily fluids, walking patterns, voice inflections. Damn, I'm getting hot here!

      1. Dr Paul Taylor

        Re: Fishing

        I thought you were about to go in a somewhat different direction

        I was. Originally I just thought of the verb "to google" in its sloppy meaning of "to search on a database, but then the activities of the real Google came to mind.

        this tech would allow any of us to present one or more fingerprints to the search engine and have it display the owner's anonymized information

        I was told yesterday by someone from Peru that that country had recently gone from ponderous bureaucracy to having a system in which you could indeed present your fingerprints and obtain a newly printed passport a few minutes later.

        Anyway, what I really had in mind was that this was a back door to getting ID cards with their associated all-seeing databases, in particular for the police to get easy convictions by fishing.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And what happens when this central store of biometric data is inevitably plundered?

    1. Jagged

      "And what happens when this central store of biometric data is inevitably plundered?"

      - bof *shrug*

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They repeat "we take the security of travellers extremely seriously ... etc" repeatedly and the press nod sagely and move on to an important breaking celebrity facelift story, the suppliers also get a bigger contract and several ministers get directorships a couple of years down the line.

      Rinse and repeat.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      When this central store of biometric data is inevitably plundered you issue a statement tthat you treat the matter of individuals' privacy with utmost seriousness and already investigate, as top priority, the alleged breach of a non-essential database element, the result of which should be made available when we get a clearer picture of what actually did happen (read: once the plebs forget all about it).

  3. ZSn


    Isn't this essentially what the USA does? If it's good enough for the land of the free <cough>, it's good enough for us.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: America

      Yes, it is what they do, which is precisely why I haven't set foot in the US since 2002. (I used to go a couple of times a year, up to then.)

      No, it's not good enough for us. Not good enough for them either, if only they'd think it through. Fat chance of that happening though.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And YOU thought...

    Google and the USA wanted too much of your data...somehow I don't recollect that fingerprints and facial recognition data were among what they wanted.

    1. Barrie Shepherd

      Re: And YOU thought...

      Visit (or just transit at the airport) the US and that is exactly what they get - you are photographed and fingerprinted by the "very welcoming" (sic) Immigration officer. As a return visit (on the same passport) does not require that process it's reasonable to assume that that is because your statistics have been kept on record from the previous visit.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: And YOU thought...

        Even people with ESTA are fingerprinted and Photographed every time they enter the USA.

        I'm a frequent visitor to the 50 states and this happens every time I enter the country. I've used JFK, Dulles, Denver, Vegas and San Diego airports in the last few years and this is the norm.

        1. Barrie Shepherd

          Re: And YOU thought...

          Don't know about the other airports but if you enter the US through LAX, on a passport you have previously entered on (and gone though the photo finger print process), you are allowed to use the automatic gates which are signed for Americans.

          I discovered this by accident on my last visit in August - it saved me a 60 odd minute wait in the queue for "first time" processing.

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Charlie Hebdo

    That's the attack perpetrated by home-grown extremists. So how does harvesting everybody's fingerprints and photos help stop that then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Charlie Hebdo

      You appear to be labouring under the misapprehension that, when politicians blindly regurgitate arguments that the police/security services have made to them for a massive increase in their powers (i.e. whatever happens to be à la mode: currently stopping the horrors of terrorism and pædophilia), there's even a shred of truth to it.

      It should be screamingly obvious that the security agencies want more powers solely because, well, it's more power. That way they obtain massive increases in their budgets for huge spending projects that give them cool new toys and justify keeping their jobs whilst rapidly advancing their careers ("look at these amazing projects I've managed!").

      If the motivation was really to stop terrorists, pædophiles or whatever bogeyman the Daily Mail has told us to be scared of today, then we'd spend those billions on real policing. You know, with actual police officers.

      But instead we're cutting back on all that so that a few senior civil servants can hand billions of pounds of top secret taxpayer money over to consulting firms and private contractors for yet another guaranteed-to-fail IT project (though this one won't make the news because, well, it's top secret) just so that they can land nice cushy advisory positions with the suppliers at just about the same time as they decide to cash in on their taxpayer-funded final salary pension schemes.

      And yet time and again, we reelect the idiots who allow this sh*t without a moment's critical analysis. We should be so proud of ourselves.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge

        Re: Charlie Hebdo

        "And yet time and again, we reelect the idiots who allow this sh*t without a moment's critical analysis. We should be so proud of ourselves."

        to be fair, pretty much everyone on the ballot* fits the description, and since 'none-of-the-above' is not an actioned option, we're screwed anyway. Now, what is needed is a true 'none-of-the-above' option, with unelected candidates who were beaten by 'none-of-the-above' disallowed from standing at the next round... maybe even with exponential backoff.

        *there is a minority to which it doesn't apply, but they are in too much a minority to make a difference

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Charlie Hebdo

          In the UK, you can vote "none of the above" - very loudly and emphatically, and with much more power than a regular vote - for the fairly reasonable price of 500 quid.

          I'm serious. If you feel that strongly, do it.

          1. James Micallef Silver badge

            Re: Charlie Hebdo

            @veti - thanks for the tip, but I am neither a UK citizen nor resident. I am also not eligible to vote or stand for elections in the country where I am currently resident, so that won't work for me.

            But the point is anyway valid. The reason that the people who get elected get elected boils down to simply 2 things, party affiliation and money. Party affiliation ties candidates in to all sorts of positions they might disagree with, but they will mostly toe the line, because the parties have a limited tolerance for internal dissent. The reason for this is, again, partly down to money because party donors expect some policy commitments from the party in return for their donations.

            A completely independent candidate needs tons of money to get elected*, and even if that happens its still 1 candidate among hundreds.

            In the current situation, a party getting 30-40% of the vote** with a turnout of less than 50% is treated as a huge victory, since the non-voters are classed as "couldn't be bothered". But a 'none-of-the-above' option allows us to distinguish between the "couldn't be bothered" and the "extremely bothered". This also allows to distinguish protest votes to minor candidates and actual votes for these candidates.

            Even if there isn't a formal mechanism to do anything with the 'none-of-the-above' votes and electoral victory is assigned as usual, it would certainly be instructive to see how many of the "couldn't be bothered" non-voters would actually bother to vote to show how bothered they really were.

            * though nowadays at least if they don't have their own they can crowdfund

            **may be more or less depending on number of contesting parties

            1. veti Silver badge

              Re: Charlie Hebdo

              @James: I'm sorry to hear you live in such an undemocratic country that you're not even allowed to vote anyway.

              In the UK, though, it's not that unrealistic to stand as an independent. It's not expensive (well, it'll take a fair bit of your time if you take it seriously, but that's optional anyway), and it's not even unheard of for them to win.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Charlie Hebdo

        I don't think there's much of a hidden motive behind this invasion of privacy. I do think that the people lobbying, plus the politicians, plus the law enforcement, are simply caught in that dreamy-eyed vision of a golden bullet, when you have a total-100% database with a big, green "push" button. You push and voila, a whirring sound, screen comes to light, quickly zoomes in from satellite to a bog-level and there you have your peadoterrorist taking shit, and his portrait and his full lifelong cv scrolls past (alongside left 1/3 of the screen), and the plods are already on the way to apprehend him.

        In theory, with total surveillance, it might become reality in the future, rather than a jason bourne movie today. So they keep trying to imitate "art".

  6. Captain Mainwaring

    Do they now

    " French authorities want fingerprint and facial scans of everyone entering or leaving the EU "

    A guaranteed way of trebling the waiting time to clear immigration control at every major international airport in Europe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do they now

      Ah, getting their own back at the Merikans then?

  7. s. pam Silver badge

    Phuck Off Phrenchy!

    This smells worse than 5yr old toe or navel cheese and just goes to show why France is where all the illegals should be locked *into*.

    Sacre Bleu what idiots they are! Cloud Cuckoo land is ringing!

    1. Mpeler
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Phuck Off Phrenchy!

      I wondered where they got the starter culture for Camembert...

      Paris, well, because...

  8. James Micallef Silver badge


    "This will result in longer queues for travellers "

    The reason there are long queues at passport control isn't complicated procedures or a large influx of travellers, it's that at every airport there are 20-30 passport control desks, of which 3 are staffed. Just spend the €€€ you plan on spending on this projects on employing some more border staff, problem solved!

  9. Graham Marsden


    Because Terrorists and Paedopiles and Drug Dealers Oh My, of course!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So a bit less liberté and a bit more of a return to Ausweis bitte.

  11. veti Silver badge

    Lying sacks of frogspawn

    If it's about "overstayers", then what possible reason could there be to include EU nationals? There's no such thing as "overstaying" for them.

    The people proposing this aren't even giving us the elementary courtesy of making it at least superficially plausible. I mean, there are plenty of potential supporters who don't mind suspending incredulity a little, but you've got to make it at least possible to do that. Don't say "I am lying through my teeth" out loud.

  12. D Moss Esq

    EU borders and the McCormick identity, supremacy, ultimatum and legacy

    French authorities want fingerprint and facial scans of everyone entering or leaving the EU.

    Why would they want that?

    We know that it can't be for border security – mass consumer flat print fingerprinting and face recognition are flaky technologies far too unreliable to secure any border.

    So why?

    France is home to the biometrics company Morpho (previously Sagem Sécurité). Never mind the fact that the technology is useless, if the EU wants to record and store the biometrics of several hundred million residents and travellers the effect on Morpho's turnover would be agréable.

    Why wouldn't they want that?

  13. druck Silver badge


    To quote dear departed Barness Thatcher; NO, NO, NO.

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