STOCKHOLM, June 22 (Xinhua) — Police in Sweden and the United States will soon be able to search each other’s fingerprint registers, Swedish public radio broadcaster SR reported on Thursday.
The Swedish government has agreed to allow police to share fingerprint information with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The database-sharing was a stipulation made by the U.S. government in exchange for granting Swedes visa-free travel to the United States.
“Both Sweden and the United States will be safer when we can search each other’s fingerprint databases,” Swedish home affairs minister Anders Ygeman told SR.
Currently, Swedish police are able to request information from the United States about fingerprints, but it is a lengthy process that can take up to two weeks.
After the summer, Swedish and American police will be able to conduct their own searches in each country’s respective fingerprint databases for crimes that carry more than a one-year prison sentence.
Under the new agreement, there will be total access between the countries. When searching the other country’s register, police will first learn whether the fingerprint is in the database at all. Then police can make further requests for identifying information from the country.
Sweden’s database contains 165,000 fingerprints of convicted and suspected criminals.
The United States has a significantly larger register, with FBI databases comprising about 100 million fingerprint records covering everyone from suspected terrorists to people who have undergone security checks for hiring purposes, SR reported.
The United States and Sweden agreed to share fingerprints in 2011, but out of respect for privacy and integrity issues, the Swedish government has analysed the issue thoroughly before reaching a decision.
“I think the sharing of biometric information is perceived as sensitive, and it is important to have good laws and rules regulating the sharing of biometric information and to have extensive data and integrity protections in place,” Ygeman said.