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French Constitutional Court Bans Law Enforcement Use of National Biometric ID Database

Sunday 01 April 2012

‘Last week, the Conseil Constitutionnel, the highest authority on the French Constitution, declared the provisions of a law permitting judicial and police use of a centralized national ID database to be unconstitutional. 200 members of the French Parliament referred the law to the Conseil following the law’s adoption on March 6th. The Conseil determined that the use of the centralized database was incompatible with France’s fundamental rights, including the right to privacy and the presumption of innocence.

The proposed legislation mandated compulsory civilian ID cards containing a chip designed to store personal and biometric information, including home address, marital status, eye colour, and fingerprints. Proponents argued that the biometric ID card would be used to stop “honest folk” from becoming the victims of identity fraud. In fact, the law would have enabled the “honest folk” database to be used for criminal and judicial purposes. The Conseil correctly determined that such uses constituted a serious incursion into the right to private life, disproportionate to the law’s stated objective.’

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