Cybersecurity News that Matters

Cybersecurity News that Matters

Court rules use of fingerprints in crime investigation does not violate privacy

Designed by Daeun Lee, The Readable

by Minkyung Shin

May. 02, 2024
9:13 PM GMT+9

The Constitutional Court of South Korea ruled on Wednesday that using people’s fingerprints for crime investigation does not violate the privacy rights of South Korean citizens.

In a press release, the Constitutional Court announced its decision to dismiss four appeals challenging the Citizen Registration Act, which occurred on April 25. One of these cases involved an appeal filed in 2020, wherein the appellant raised concerns about privacy violations by South Korean police, particularly regarding the collection and use of fingerprints in criminal investigations. Under the country’s registration law, a resident registration certificate is required to contain the individual’s name, photo, address, and fingerprints, which are then forwarded to the local police station.

According to the court, among the nine judges, four agreed with the appellant, arguing that there is no legal basis for the police to collect citizens’ fingerprint data. They maintained that law enforcement lacks the legal authority to gather and utilize such data in criminal investigations. However, the remaining five judges disagreed, asserting that these actions do not violate privacy rights, citing previous decisions from 2005 and 2015. The court dismisses cases when they fail to garner approval from at least six members.

On May 26, 2005, and May 28, 2015, the Constitutional Court ruled that the collection and utilization of fingerprints for investigative purposes did not infringe upon privacy rights. The court reasoned that the public interest in utilizing this data outweighs any potential individual inconvenience. Such measures could aid in preventing identity theft or assisting in identifying victims of disasters. Additionally, the court emphasized that fingerprints are not easily categorized as sensitive information that could significantly impact an individual’s rights and dignity.

Meanwhile, the court also dismissed an appeal claiming that collecting prints from all ten fingers violated citizens’ privacy rights. However, eight members of the court disagreed with this argument, asserting that fingerprints are primarily used for identification purposes and do not contain sensitive personal information regarding an individual’s physical, personal, or socioeconomic status. Nevertheless, one member dissented, pointing out that since each individual has unique fingerprints, there is no necessity to collect prints from all ten fingers for identification purposes.


Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest insights and trends. Tailor your subscription to fit your interests:

By subscribing, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We respect your privacy and are committed to protecting your personal data. Your email address will only be used to send you the information you have requested, and you can unsubscribe at any time through the link provided in our emails.

  • Minkyung Shin

    Minkyung Shin serves as a reporting intern for The Readable, where she has channeled her passion for cybersecurity news. Her journey began at Dankook University in Korea, where she pursued studies in...

    View all posts
Stay Ahead with The Readable's Cybersecurity Insights