No fingerprint IDs!

Since August 2021, it is mandatory in all of the EU to have fingerprints stored on our ID cards. Digitalcourage has filed a lawsuit against it.
Pictogram of an ID card. On the bottom riht corner there is no-fingerprint sign.Markus Hamid, CC-BY 4.0

If you could just place your finger right here, so we can take your fingerprints …

Taking fingerprints – that’s something we first and foremost associate with crime. However, since 2 August 2021 we are all treated as potential criminals: Anyone who applies for a new ID card is required to have both their index fingers scanned – and stored.

News about our legal action

The Administrative Court at Wiesbaden has referred (German only) our complaint against the mandatory storage of fingerprints on ID cards directly to the the European Court of Justice (CJEU). The court has issued the case number C-61/22. To get to this stage so quickly is a great success already!

In 2022, we were able to submit a written statement (German only) to the European Court of Justice (CJEU) in our role as plaintiff in that case. Several others are eligible to add an opinion, for example the governments of all EU member states, the Commission, the Parliament and the EU Council. In an open letter (German only) representing 13.000 German citizens we urged the German government to speak up against the obligation to include fingerprints in ID cards, citing people's fundamental rights. In September, we received the statements submitted by the EU bodies and member states. Regretfully, these statements are not open to the public, but this much we can say: we are in for an uphill battle in court.

Our complaint was heard in a public hearing on 14 March, 2023 at the CJEU in Luxembourg. Our case was tried before the CJEU's Grand Chamber, so with 15 judges. This shows how important the court considers our complaint: the Grand Chamber only convenes rarely, and only in very meaningful and complex cases (see CJEU website).

On June 29, 2023, the Advocate General at the European Court of Justice presented her recommendation on our lawsuit against the fingerprinting requirement. She recommends that our case be dismissed - with arguments that do not convince us and we believe she did not address the issues sufficiently that judges asked about in the hearing.

At the time of writing, no date has been set for the delivery of a judgment. The final verdict will affect all EU citizens.

We will report on the next steps on this website, in our newsletter (German only) and in the Fediverse.

Stay updated with our newsletter (German)

What is the problem with fingerprints in ID documents?

It is an attack on our dignity when we are being treated as if we were criminals, and that is why we believe that this law violates fundamental rights. This unnecessary obligation to submit our biometric data is not in line with the values of constitutional states and democracies. Instead, it is nothing but a police state’s craving for control.

There is a unique aspect to biometric features: They make it possible to keep us under life-long surveillance. When necessary, people have the ability to change their password, their name and their address, for example to protect themselves from persecution, tracking or threats. But we can never change our biometric data.

State institutions are obliged to guarantee that biometric data are held securely. Still, the more often biometric data are collected, shared or even read, the higher the risk that there will be a leak somewhere. Present experience has shown that safeguards often get watered down over time, and data are not sufficiently protected. Besides: if the state won't trust us – why should we trust it in return?

The two dictatorships in recent German history collected information on a large scale, and used that information against their own people. And even though I do have faith in our present constitutional state – can I say the same for all future governments? And what about the countries I would like to visit, who will get their hands on my documents the moment I enter their country?

Here is what you can do

We are taking legal action against mandatory fingerprints in ID documents, and this has been referred to the European Court of Justice (CJEU). At the CJEU we want to topple the EU Regulation that is the legal basis for the obligation to store fingerprints. This costs us a lot of money – for legal expenses, travel, campaigning as well as personnel costs.
Please help us to defeat this law with a donation!