The ministry is considering allowing police to use passport fingerprints to investigate crimes

The ministry is considering allowing police to use passport fingerprints to investigate crimes

In the spring, the Ministry of the Interior launched a study on whether fingerprint data from passports and identity cards can be used in the investigation of serious crimes.

The previous survey of fingerprint data by the Ministry of the Interior was completed in 2014. However, the working group noted that the use of fingerprints was not possible due to the critical views of the Parliamentary Constitution Committee.

However, the matter is now being re-examined. The use of biometric data came to the fore again in Parliament in 2021, when the law on the processing of police personal data was updated to comply with EU directives.

Summer Pato-OjaAn expert from the Ministry of the Interior told Yle that a new investigation is being carried out because the EU Data Protection Directive may have changed the situation.

The use of images for biometric identification is also being studied, Pato-Oja added. In practice, this can mean the automatic identification of people using facial recognition technology.

"At least the study deals with biometric photographs," Pato-Oja added.

Not everyone agrees that the use of biometrics is a step in the right direction. Tomi VoutilainenProfessor of Public Law at the University of Eastern Finland, stated that expanding the use of the register is problematic. Voutilainen added that the use of these identifiers for crime prevention would significantly change the purpose of the fingerprint register.

"If the police processed our biometric data continuously, regularly, automatically and in bulk, we would all be suspected of a crime. We can’t end up in this situation," Voutilainen emphasized.

What crimes can it involve?

In a recent statement, the Parliament’s Administrative Committee asked the Ministry of the Interior to examine whether fingerprints of passports could be used to prevent or resolve "the most serious crimes."

"Examples given by the committee were manslaughter or serious sexual offenses against a vulnerable person," Pato-Oja said.

In its previous 2014 report, the working group addressed homicides and attempted homicide, deprivation of liberty and sexual offenses. At the time of reporting, police statistics showed 1,020 unsolved crimes under this criterion, 34 of which were fingerprints. The report estimated that passport fingerprints could have led researchers to the perpetrators.

Superintendent Pertti Sovelius The police government said the use of passport fingerprints has been discussed mainly in connection with serious crimes such as homicides and gross rape.

Voutilainen said that if passport fingerprints were used in a criminal investigation, the range of applicable crimes should be narrow. For example, it should apply only to the most serious crimes against life or health and to terrorist offenses.

"There are already so many different crimes down there that fingerprints are used regularly," Voutilainen added.

The Police Board supports the ongoing investigation and after the 2014 report, police representatives disagreed when it was decided not to recommend a new bill.

According to Sovelius, the police commander, the police also want to include in the review the fingerprints collected from foreigners who have arrived in Finland under the Aliens Act.

The report of the Ministry of the Interior is to be published before the autumn session of Parliament.

Source: The Nordic Page

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