EKRE hoping president will not give assent to biometric data act

EKRE in Riigikogu.
EKRE in Riigikogu. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) has ended its delaying tactics at the Riigikogu and says is now hoping that the president won't promulgate the personal database systems establishment act (ABIS), chairmen of the party's Riigkogu group, Henn Põlluaas, said.

"We gave up on it. We are nicely on schedule. Our aim was to delay the procurement of the draft, which was added to the agenda. And we're on track," Põlluaas told ERR.

The act streamlines biometric data, with one database doing the job of several, once the act enters into force. Critics say the data would be used excessively or accessed too easily.

"We gave a clear message to the coalition as to what it means when they bring such drafts, destroying democracy. We promised earlier that when the draft passes that we will continue so that they know what will happen the next time they come up with similar ideas," Põlluaas said.

On Wednesday evening, President Kersti Kaljulaid met with Martin Helme, chairman of EKRE, Deputy Speaker of the Riigikogu, to discuss his party's concerns regarding ABIS, which was approved by the Riigikogu on Tuesday.

Põlluaas said EKRE now hopes that the president will not promulgate the law, something which her role allows for.

"I got the impression from Martin Helme that the president has also begun to realize that the law can carry threats to individual freedoms and democratic rights," Põlluaas

"We hope that the president will not promulgate this law," Põlluaas said.

What is the ABIS act

ABIS is a legal basis for establishing a database for an automated biometric identification system. There are currently several databases in use in Estonia which contain biometric personal data and are at present under various ministries' areas of administration. The objective of the ABIS database is to increase the reliability of identification by using the datasets to create a central database.

The creation of the database and the resulting capability to compare biometric data will have a positive impact on the state's internal security as it will help law enforcement bodies resolve criminal offenses.

The processing of data in the ABIS database will follow all data protection principles and ensure that data is used lawfully and transparently. The owner of the data stored in ABIS is the person whom it concerns and pursuant to the Personal Data Protection Act, the owner has the right to know who has viewed their information.

Access to ABIS will be granted only to officials who have the legal right and specific authorization in accessing the database, for the purpose of fulfilling their statutory duties. Data relating to ABIS is to be processed as little as possible, and only to the extent required for achieving the objectives of proceedings, it is reported.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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