All-out biometric


By bringing in a State Demographic Register, MPs want to have total biometric records on Ukrainians. Much more information will be included than Ukraine’s international commitments demand.

As reported, on 6 September 2012 the Verkhovna Rada passed in its first reading a draft Law on a Single State Demographic Register submitted by Party of the Regions MP Vasyl Hrytsak. The MPs supported it in its first reading claiming that such haste was needed due to urgent demands by the EU on introducing a system of biometric data on passports, this being needed for visa liberalization with EU countries.

Several similar laws have previously got through parliament but then been vetoed by the President. Now Hrytsak is trying again.

According to the Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Inter-ethnic Relations, Viktor Taran from the opposition BYUT faction, the committee supported the bill as “seeming the most realistic from among the other bills. It’s cheaper and not about corruption”. He asserts that previous draft laws demanded bringing in a citizens’ ID card as well as a passport, and that this entails extra cost to the state. He adds that these cards were to be prepared by a commercial structure, and that the EU has long been reminding Ukraine of its promise regarding biometric passports.

Viktor Tymoshchuk from the Centre for Political and Legal Reform disagrees and says that the draft bill contains much more than is demanded by the EU.

He says that biometric information will be stored in both the normal passport for travelling abroad, and in Ukrainians’ internal passport.

A mega database is also planned with the numbers of all documents which a person receives.

The bill envisages new-born babies being issued with a passport with biometric data with this then being renewed every 10 years.

He sees this as yet another attempt to table a draft law working in the interests of commercial structures. He points out that Hrytsak is closely associated with the SSAPS Consortium [the Single State Automated Passport System) which wants to produce the biometric passports.

The draft law proposed by the Justice Ministry was, despite being much more substantive, rejected.

Hrytsak’s latest draft law envisages that aside from biometric data, the State Demographic Register will contain all important information about a person, from their date of birth to death certificate. He warns that in Ukraine nobody guarantees the inviolability of this data. This is not denied by Viktor Taran but the latter claims that this is the reason for creating a single register.

Human rights activists, however, are adamant that before the next vote on the bill, measures must be taken to prevent the data’s free sale. Arkady Bushchenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union says that biometric passports are indeed an EU requirement and cannot be avoided. However in European countries, he points out, there is a developed system for protecting personal data. “Here all databases can be bought at the Kyiv Petrivka Market.

Hrytsak’s draft law he also believes is ill-suited for present Ukrainian reality and does not take Ukrainian citizens’ interests into account.

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