UK fingerprints foreign six-year-old children at the border

Posted by Cory Doctorow, January 29, 2009 7:22 AM permalink
If you bring a child to Britain from outside the EU, be prepared to have her fingerprinted, even if she’s only six years old. That’s because the British government now leads the world in undermining the civil liberties of children, beating the US-VISIT program by eight years (visitors to America are only fingerprinted if they’re over 14). Most of the British government seems not to have realized that this was going on — even though the UK’s Members of European Parliament have been pushing to make this a requirement across the EU.
Remember when the head of Scotland Yard proposed taking DNA samples from five-year-olds who displayed criminal tendencies so that they could be rounded up for arrest later in life? Here again, we see the British government mistaking Nineteen Eighty-Four as a manual for statecraft.

In fact, no one has called the Borders Agency to account. Home Office officials I have talked to outside the agency were shocked that official government policy is now to fingerprint children.
When asked why (question 226407), the Home Office itself offers a much more solid defence: that the EU requires it. What it does not admit is that the British government is almost alone in pushing the EU to ensure that the age when fingerprinting can start is so low. Home Office officials pushed the EU to establish a standard age of six, despite opposition within other European governments. The next time you hear a government official support the EU, it is not just because it is a vehicle for “peace, prosperity and freedom”, but also because it is a vehicle to push through policies that the UK government would prefer not to pursue through the legislature at home.

The Bush administration rejected the contemplation of fingerprinting children, even within the controversial US-VISIT program that fingerprints visitors to the United States. The Department of Homeland Security is prohibited from fingerprinting children under 14, though it may well consider lowering it.

Six-year-olds fingerprinted by Britain


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