Project Interoperability: EU to pay 300 million EUR for face and fingerprint recognition

The companies IDEMIA and Sopra Steria are setting up a biometric recognition system for the EU. For this purpose, fingerprints and facial images from five databases will be stored in a single file. Completion is planned in two years, but in an earlier large-scale IT project of the EU, one of the partners was seven years behind schedule.

The European Union has awarded a major contract for a new fingerprint and face recognition system. A consortium consisting of the two French companies IDEMIA and Sopra Steria is to set up and subsequently manage a Shared Biometric Matching System (sBMS).

The contract was awarded by the EU agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems (eu-LISA). According to the invitation to tender, the framework contract costs around 300 million EUR. Its duration is four years with an option for an extension of up to six years. As the two contractors explain, „one of the largest biometric systems in the world“ will be created. In two years, the database will contain 400 million third-country nationals. „Project Interoperability: EU to pay 300 million EUR for face and fingerprint recognition“ weiterlesen

New investigative tools: German police receives 78 million euros for Schengen Information System

Three new EU regulations significantly expand the possibilities of the largest European police database. Four different biometric data can now be entered in SIS II. The number of storages and searches is once again increasing significantly. German authorities are among the power users.

The storage of data in the Schengen Information System (SIS II) continues to increase. This was written by Hans-Georg Engelke, State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, in response to a parliamentary question. According to the report almost 90 million people and objects were listed in Europe’s largest police database as of 1st January. In 2018 there were 82 million, in 2017 about 76 million. The current number of wanted persons, at around 983,000, is the smaller part of all alerts. One tenth of these entries come from Germany, and this number has also risen significantly. „New investigative tools: German police receives 78 million euros for Schengen Information System“ weiterlesen

Upgrade for the Schengen Information System

The European Union is restructuring its police database landscape. Existing systems are being merged and supplemented by new ones. The number of authorised users is also increasing. Following technical changes, the relevant Council working groups are now being reorganised.

The European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems (eu-LISA) has carried out an upgrade for the Schengen Information System (SIS II). With version 9.3.0, the database managed by the Agency based in Tallinn, technically implements its three new regulations. In future, Europol, Eurojust and Frontex will also be able to query all types of alerts in the system, including „discreet searches“.

A total of 26 EU Member States participate in SIS II, plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Last year, the database contained 81 million objects and around 900 thousand persons. In 2017, most entries (20 million) came from Italy, followed by France (11 million) and Germany (over 10 million). In 2017, the system was queried five billion times, mostly by border, police and immigration authorities. In 2018, the number of hits rose to six billion, according to eu-LISA. „Upgrade for the Schengen Information System“ weiterlesen

Europol to become a global criminal information hub

With new regulations, the EU Police Agency will soon have access to many millions of alerts and searches, including fingerprints and facial images. The function is part of the „2020+ Strategy“. Connection to other information systems is already being planned.

Europol will be connected to the Schengen Information System (SIS II) from the end of this year. Access for the Hague-based police agency is governed by three new rules for the Schengen Information System. Europol has read-only access. As an official participant, however, the Agency can use all alerts contained therein for its own purposes.

SIS II is the largest and most widely used search database in the European Union. 26 EU Member States participate, as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The database currently contains more than 82 million entries. The majority are objects such as stolen or missing vehicles and identity documents. According to the European Agency for the Management of Large IT Systems (eu-LISA), which manages the SIS II, it was searched more than six billion times in 2018, compared to five billion the previous year. „Europol to become a global criminal information hub“ weiterlesen

Significantly more fingerprints stored in the Schengen Information System

With biometric software, people can be searched and identified using their dactyloscopic data. Initially, such a system was only used in databases for asylum seekers and visa applicants in the European Union. Now even the largest EU police database has a „Fingerprint Identification System“.

The Schengen Information System (SIS II) currently contains around 236,000 searchable fingerprints. Half a year ago, the figure was still around 135,000. The reason for the increase is the introduction of a „Fingerprint Identification System“ (AFIS), which was activated by the EU Commission on 6 March last year. At that time, SIS II contained around 97,000 fingerprint sheets. Until then, searches in existing fingerprint data were only possible in the EURODAC database and in the Visa Information System (VIS). „Significantly more fingerprints stored in the Schengen Information System“ weiterlesen

Europe’s largest police database expanded again

The Schengen Information System contains 79 million entries on persons and objects. These can now also be used by the EU agencies. A new regulation allows simple police officers to question people.

With the publication in the Official Journal of the European Union three new regulations for the Schengen Information System (SIS) have entered into force. The participating national authorities are now obliged to issue a warning for all cases involving terrorist offences. If hits are found during a query, the police agency Europol must be informed in any case. However, this regulation will not be binding until the end of 2019. „Europe’s largest police database expanded again“ weiterlesen

New database: EU extends criminal records to third country nationals and stateless persons

Five EU biometric databases will be merged into a „Common Identity Repository“. The regulations of all systems have to be renewed. The possibilities of the authorities will be expanded.

The European Union will extend its cross-border European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) to third-country nationals and stateless persons. This was agreed by the Council and Parliament on Tuesday. The exchange of information on criminal convictions of third-country nationals is intended to help in the fight against terrorism and is part of the „European Security Agenda“. The new regulation, on which the Commission presented a proposal a year ago, still has to be formally adopted by both parties. The database will then be called ECRIS-TCN („third country nationals“). „New database: EU extends criminal records to third country nationals and stateless persons“ weiterlesen

New EU system for fingerprint identification activated

The Schengen Information System (SIS II) now also has a system for identifying people using fingerprints. After a two-year trial period, the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) was activated in March by the European Agency for the Operational Management of Large IT Systems (eu-LISA). This centrally located „fingerprint identification system“ can be searched, for example, as part of a police check. Every new entry stored in the  database is compared with the existing dactyloscopic data. The aim is to fight not only general crime but also the abuse of identities. „New EU system for fingerprint identification activated“ weiterlesen

Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases

Heiner Busch and Matthias Monroy. Translation by Viktoria Langer

The topic of counter-terrorism in Europe remains closely linked to the development and expansion of police (and secret service) databases. This was the case in the 1970s, after 11 September 2001 and has also been the case since 2014, when the EU Member States started working on their action plans against ‚foreign terrorist fighters‘.

The first effect of this debate has been a quantitative one: the amount of data in the relevant databases has increased explosively since 2015. This can be seen by looking in particular at available data on the Europol databases, like ‚Focal Points‘ (formerly: Analytical Work Files) of the Europol analysis system. Since 2015 they have become one of the central instruments of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) which was established in January 2016. „Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases“ weiterlesen