Authorities in Germany want to fingerprint asylum seekers as young as six years old and also introduce powers which would give them the right to look at messages on services such as WhatsApp in a crackdown on terrorism.
Ministers have pledged to lower the age limit for fingerprinting young asylum seekers from 14 to just six.
Joachim Herrmann, the Bavarian interior minister, said it was vital that the security services should be allowed to monitor immigrant children.
About 1 million immigrants have settled in Germany over the last two years – many fleeing war-torn Syria and the Middle East –after an open-door policy introduced by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Ministers from central government and federal states also insisted the time has come for the arms of the state to access encrypted messaging services such as WhatsApp and Signal. Currently, these enable jihadis to operate outside of standard surveillance systems.
Interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said: “We can’t allow there to be areas that are practically outside the law.”
One option Germany is considering is ‘source telecom surveillance’, where authorities install software on phones to relay messages before they are encrypted.
The proposals follow a spate of European terrorist atrocities in which hundreds have died in Germany, France and Britain.
State surveillance is being ramped up across Europe as a result of the attacks.