European citizens face tighter identification measures
The home secretary, Charles Clarke, is to press today's emergency European counter-terrorism summit to adopt a plan to compulsorily fingerprint all EU citizens who already carry identity cards.
The scheme is a crucial part of a 10-point anti-terrorism package that includes the retention of email and phone records for up to three years which Mr Clarke will propose when he chairs the emergency summit called in the wake of the London bombings...
A Home Office spokesman stressed, however, that the measure would not mean the EU was compelling those countries which do not have ID cards to adopt them.
Britain is to start introducing 'biometric' passports from next year; all applicants will have to go to one of 70 new centres to be fingerprinted and have their face 'scanned'. In December the EU decided that all passport holders, visitors and foreign resident nationals should be fingerprinted.
The proposal to extend this to identity card holders with implementation to start in 2006 means that most EU citizens, including the French and Germans who have only cardboard ID cards, will be fingerprinted as well.
Tony Bunyan of Statewatch, which monitors civil liberties in the EU, said: 'This proposal, with others, means that everyone living in the EU and their details are held on an EU-wide database.
'At a time of great tragedy it is all the more important that we act with care and do not bequeath to future generations a society where every movement and every communication is under surveillance.'