Sylvie Guillaume, on behalf of the S&D Group.
Mr President, I welcome the initiative of this discussion, which allows us to return to the concerns that have already been expressed in the past on the reliability of biometric passports.
We were told at the time that the introduction of biometric information would improve the security of travel documents and would benefit the security of our fellow citizens. A recent survey showed that 10% of French passports could be false, as their production relies on documents that are extremely easy to falsify, namely copies of birth certificates.
In this context, how is it possible to imagine that the multiplication of biometric data and other secure chips is the best way to protect our fellow citizens. The existing shortcomings ought to encourage us to be more prudent. By insisting on defending security at any cost, by rushing into the collection of personal data, we end up whittling away our fellow citizens’ areas of freedom, especially with the creation of databases that could be used for purposes other than in the general interest.
Another dimension that I would to raise here concerns the sometimes obscure, vested interests hiding behind such developments: the manufacturers of body scanners and electronic chips and data gathering and security companies. All of these industrial lobbies have a clear interest in promoting these security-oriented technologies, which, to say the least, is worrying.
In the face of this rationale of saving data on the population that we are seeing more or less all over Europe, we need to be vigilant as regards the risk of violations of privacy. That is why I am insisting in this debate that the use of biometric data must be proportionate to the intended goal. A complete overhaul of the rules providing for the inclusion of biometric information in passports and travel documents is therefore imperative.
To conclude, as regards the assessment carried out by the Commission on the implementation of these rules at national level, you have given us a number of very useful clarifications. We await with impatience, therefore, the various reports, the first of which ought, I believe, to appear quite soon.