Slovakia: Amendment to Identity Card Act Introduces Biometric Data

Slovakia: Amendment to Identity Card Act Introduces Biometric Data

On December 30, 2021, the legislature of the Slovak Republic adopted amendments to Act 395/2019 Coll. on Identity Cards, which had been proposed by the Slovak Ministry of Interior and submitted to the parliament in the summer of 2021.

As stated in the explanatory memorandum, the bill was presented in the context of the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2019/1157 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on strengthening the security of identity cards of Union citizens and of residents issued to Union citizens and their family members exercising their right to free movement. This regulation requires that identity cards include a secure storage medium with a facial image and two fingerprints in interoperable digital formats.

Accordingly, the new act introduces the inclusion of fingerprints and facial features on Slovak ID cards. The features would be recorded in the form of biometric data. The data would be stored and encoded in the contactless electronic chip with a dual interface. A card access number, allowing access to data in the chip, would be displayed on the front of the ID card.

To meet the requirements of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which does not allow storing biometric data, fingerprints would be deleted from the Ministry of Interior database once the document was issued to the holder. Marcela Macová, a Slovak expert in the field of data protection, explained that the GDPR covers data gained from processing physical, physiological, or behavioral characteristics of a natural person, such as facial images or dactyloscopy data. This kind of data also serves to confirm the identity of a natural person.

Because the GDPR does not allow creating or maintaining databases for storing biometric data at the national or the European Union level, the amended act provides for collecting and storing personal information in the storage medium only to verify the document’s authenticity and the holder’s identity. Several exceptions prescribed in article 6 of the GDPR allow the processing of biometric data to comply with the law. For instance, these exceptions cover the authorized persons who bear the responsibility of issuing the ID card.

The new act sets the obligation to record biometric information for all persons above the age of 12. Also, the act changes the administrative rule on applying for the ID card. Because applicants are obligated to undergo fingerprinting when applying, they can no longer apply for the card electronically.

Additionally, the act amends the Administrative Fees Act. Under previous legislation, ID cards were mandatory for all citizens above the age of 15 with residence in Slovakia , whereas for other citizens, they were only optional. The new act creates an exemption for mandatory ID cardholders from paying specific fees.

Previously issued ID cards will remain valid until their expiration date, and new ID cards will gradually be issued throughout 2022.  

Prepared by Adela Balima, Law Library intern, under the supervision of Peter Roudik, Assistant Law Librarian of Congress

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