Dutch municipalities want facial scans to be done for identity documents

Dutch municipalities want facial scans to be done for identity documents

To tackle the increasing number of cases of identity fraud, Dutch municipalities have announced their desire to use facial scanners during the application process for new identity documents, such as passports or driving licences. This would confirm whether the applicant is the same person appearing in the photo on the old identity document.

Facial scanners currently used in Dutch airports

Airports in the Netherlands are already using facial scanners to check incoming passengers. Now the municipalities of Amsterdam, Utrechtse Heuvelrug and other cities have plans to use them for people who are applying for a passport or driving licence. 

There has reportedly been an increase in the number of identity fraud cases, motivating municipalities to want to use this technology. In practice, the old document would first be authenticated with a document scanner and then the facial scanner would be used to verify that the applicant is the person they say they are. However, testing still needs to be done before the system is introduced.

Facial scans could be in conflict with privacy legislation

According to the Dutch Association for Civil Affairs (NVVB), an organisation that represents people involved in the management of personal information, there isn’t yet a legal basis for the use of facial scanners. There are also questions as to whether the plans to use facial scanners are in conflict with privacy legislation.

A facial scan falls under special personal data, which means that any organisation using this data must handle it carefully. “This is on their own initiative and under their own responsibility. To test whether the use complies with privacy legislation, these municipalities should do a risk analysis,” a spokesperson from the Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs told NOS.

Simone Jacobs


Simone Jacobs

Simone is originally from South Africa, where she studied Genetics and Zoology. She enjoys reading, hiking and animal training.

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