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Recital 19

Exceptions to the Use of Biometric Identification Systems

The use of those systems for the purpose of law enforcement should therefore be prohibited, except in exhaustively listed and narrowly defined situations, where the use is strictly necessary to achieve a substantial public interest, the importance of which outweighs the risks. Those situations involve the search for potential victims of crime, including missing children; certain threats to the life or physical safety of natural persons or of a terrorist attack; and the detection, localisation, identification or prosecution of perpetrators or suspects of the criminal offences referred to in Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA9 if those criminal offences are punishable in the Member State concerned by a custodial sentence or a detention order for a maximum period of at least three years and as they are defined in the law of that Member State. Such threshold for the custodial sentence or detention order in accordance with national law contributes to ensure that the offence should be serious enough to potentially justify the use of ‘real-time’ remote biometric identification systems. Moreover, of the 32 criminal offences listed in the Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA, some are in practice likely to be more relevant than others, in that the recourse to ‘real-time’ remote biometric identification will foreseeably be necessary and proportionate to highly varying degrees for the practical pursuit of the detection, localisation, identification or prosecution of a perpetrator or suspect of the different criminal offences listed and having regard to the likely differences in the seriousness, probability and scale of the harm or possible negative consequences. In addition, this Regulation should preserve the ability for law enforcement, border control, immigration or asylum authorities to carry out identity checks in the presence of the person that is concerned in accordance with the conditions set out in Union and national law for such checks. In particular, law enforcement, border control, immigration or asylum authorities should be able to use information systems, in accordance with Union or national law, to identify a person who, during an identity check, either refuses to be identified or is unable to state or prove his or her identity, without being required by this Regulation to obtain prior authorisation. This could be, for example, a person involved in a crime, being unwilling, or unable due to an accident or a medical condition, to disclose their identity to law enforcement authorities.

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