France Creates Big Brother Data File Raising Privacy Concerns

France has created a central database containing biometric and personal information of citizens, raising concerns about privacy and personal freedom.

Anyone with an identity card or a passport will be registered in the new database, according to a government decree published Sunday. A single file will hold details including name, height, and eye color, along with bio-metric information such as finger prints. 

The purpose of the system is to harmonize authentication and issuance of identity cards and passports, the government says. Even so, the decree has generated objections that the data could be abused by politicians or subject to hacking.

“We cannot hand intelligence men control of such data,” Arnaud Montebourg, the former industry minister and presidential candidate, said Wednesday. “Checks and instruments of control are needed.”

CNIL, the French data protection commission, said in a decision published last Sunday that substantial guarantees as well as special vigilance are required. The matter should be sent to parliament for review, CNIL said.

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