Meeting in Washington: EU plans biometric super database

The European Entry/Exit System will go live next spring. It is expected to surpass the world’s largest police biometric database in the US.

With the Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems (eu-LISA) and Frontex, two EU agencies are responsible for controls at European external borders. In the area of research and development, both work closely together to keep their technical applications up-to-date and to introduce innovations. Biometric applications are currently in particular focus: The European Union will start operating a new Entry/Exit system in May 2023, which will process and store four fingerprints and facial images of all third state travellers at the external borders.

Such biometric surveillance comes with new difficulties. Especially at land borders, the authorities expect longer queues when, for example, several car occupants or coach passengers have to submit fingerprints and facial images at the same time. Travellers will also have to put up with longer waiting times at airports and enter their biometric data at self-service kiosks. „Meeting in Washington: EU plans biometric super database“ weiterlesen

Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed

So far, only EU states and Europol are allowed to access databases at Interpol, but soon Frontex and the new public prosecutor’s office will be allowed to do so as well. The EU Parliament has drawn red lines for the negotiations.

As an intergovernmental organisation, Interpol aims to facilitate international police cooperation in the field of terrorism and serious crime. With 195 member countries, it is the largest organisation of its kind in the world, run by the General Secretariat in Lyon, France. However, it is an informal, i.e. private association, because Interpol is not linked to any other international organisation.

Interpol already cooperates with law enforcement agencies of the European Union at various levels and in various projects, including „integrated border management“ in addition to the organisation’s actual areas of responsibility. This cooperation is now to be carried out under a new agreement. The EU Commission already presented a proposal for this in the spring of last year. However, the negotiations are at a standstill. „Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed“ weiterlesen

Data Protection Commissioner’s audit: Germany’s largest police database contains many illicit records

After ten years, the German Federal Data Protection Commissioner has again inspected the INPOL-Z file at the Federal Criminal Police. There are still considerable problems there; even administrative offenses can lead to storage. In some cases, the auditor waived a formal complaint because the police wanted to delete the data immediately.

For all German federal and state police authorities, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Wiesbaden operates the central INPOL-Z information system. It consists of various files, including the Criminal File Index or Police Records (ED). Many millions of facial images and fingerprints of suspects and asylum seekers are stored there. This makes it the largest police database in the Federal Republic. Customs can also access it.

However, a lot of personal data is stored here illegally. The then Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI), Peter Schaar, had already pointed this out in 2011 after an audit visit to the BKA. Ten years later, his successor Ulrich Kelber has once again signed up for a „consultation and inspection visit“ in Wiesbaden to check whether the „recommendations“ made at the time have been implemented. „Data Protection Commissioner’s audit: Germany’s largest police database contains many illicit records“ weiterlesen

Border Security Partnership: EU states consider unprecedented biometrics agreement with U.S.

In a letter to several EU member states and the Commission, the U.S. government threatens a new condition for visa-free entry. There is confusion in Brussels over a response. Parliament was the last to be informed about the initiative, although it concerns fingerprints and facial images.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government and the European Union have entered into several data-sharing agreements. The TFTP treaty, for example, gives U.S. authorities details of global financial transactions through the Belgian company SWIFT. The PNR agreement forces the transfer of passenger data before each flight. Both agreements were controversial among data protectionists and fought over in the EU Parliament.

Now a new, much more far-reaching agreement in the security field is on the agenda. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is demanding direct access to police biometric databases in the EU. The fingerprints and facial images stored there are intended to facilitate the identification of individuals in the context of U.S. immigration controls. „Border Security Partnership: EU states consider unprecedented biometrics agreement with U.S.“ weiterlesen

New EU information system: EU member states push for police use of biometric repository

The EU is merging biometric data from different databases into a „Common Identity Repository“. Security authorities are to use it to compare fingerprints and facial images. This will affect tourists, business travellers and refugees from third countries.

If the European „Entry/Exit System“ (EES) goes into operation as planned in four months, all travellers will have to provide fingerprints and facial images when crossing an EU external border. This database is now to be used increasingly by security authorities. The EU interior ministers want to adopt conclusions on this in the Council. The British civil rights organisation Statewatch has published a draft of these conclusions.

The coveted data will be stored in a „Common Identity Repository“ (CIR), which, according to current plans, will be launched in a year’s time. The planned conclusions call on member states to enact laws allowing biometric searches, „in particular for the purpose of facilitating the correct identification of persons“. „New EU information system: EU member states push for police use of biometric repository“ weiterlesen

Ukraine war: New Eurojust regulation in fast-track procedure

Eurojust is allowed to store and process personal and biometric data. As EU Justice Agency it will also be authorised to analyse digital evidence, but it does not actually have a mandate to do so.

The Permanent Representatives of the EU Member States today agreed on a position on the new Eurojust Regulation. The agency is responsible for judicial cooperation in criminal matters and coordinates cross-border investigations. Among the new proposals, Eurojust will be allowed to secure and process evidence on war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The three criminal offences enshrined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are part of Eurojust’s mandate, but the establishment of a biometric database is not yet part of it.

The background to this is the war in Ukraine, on which the agency is to take action following a request from the EU Council of Ministers for „Justice and Home Affairs“. Eurojust is supposed to support European and international courts and the in securing evidence. Because the measures required for this are urgent, the Eurojust Regulation will also be adopted in a two-month urgent procedure. The Commission had presented a corresponding legislative proposal only last week. Four days later, the Member States in the Council dealt with it for the first time. „Ukraine war: New Eurojust regulation in fast-track procedure“ weiterlesen

Disrupted supply chains: Chip shortage hampers new EU databases

An EU agency is building a recognition system with biometric data on 400 million travellers. The contractors seem to have overstretched themselves

In future, anyone wishing to enter the European Union without a visa will have to register in a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) via a form on the internet, providing information on the purpose and course of the journey. Only with a travel authorisation can the border be crossed. In an Entry/Exit System (EES), all travellers must then submit four fingerprints and a facial image. The biometric data will end up in a huge archive that will be merged with other databases.

In the EU, the introduction of the new information systems is known as Interoperability. Various difficulties in implementation have already delayed the project by several months, and now more complications are on the horizon. This is stated in a presentation by the French Council Presidency, published by the British civil rights organisation Statewatch. According to it, a questionnaire answered by 24 EU member states showed delays in several countries. „Disrupted supply chains: Chip shortage hampers new EU databases“ weiterlesen

DNA, facial images and fingerprints: German biometric police systems contain 10 million people

Police authorities are increasingly requesting biometric data, more and more often with success. The search is carried out in German and European information systems. However, the results are not always trustworthy.

Since 2008, German police forces have been able to search biometric photographs in the INPOL file at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). For this purpose, the authorities use a facial recognition system (GES), which is also made available via the BKA. Currently, about 5.5 million portrait images of 3.6 million persons are stored there for search purposes. This is what the Federal Ministry of the Interior writes in its answer to a parlamentarian question by the Left Party. In addition to the BKA, the Federal Police and the State Criminal Police Offices can also use the GES. In 2021, the authorities made a total of 90,425 queries there, an increase of about 20 per cent compared to 2020. 4,990 persons were identified, compared to 4,403 the year before. „DNA, facial images and fingerprints: German biometric police systems contain 10 million people“ weiterlesen

New control system: Frontex ends pilot project on facial recognition at EU borders

Until now, only asylum seekers and visa applicants had to hand over their biometric data before entering the EU. With an Entry/Exit System, this will be extended to all other travellers from third countries. Border controls will be significantly delayed from 2022. Entry apps and automatic „eGates“ should save this time again.

The EU border agency Frontex has completed a series of tests on the storage and processing of biometric data at land borders. At three checkpoints in Bulgaria and Spain, four fingerprints and the facial image, as well as the date and place of entry or exit, were taken and stored, in addition to the travellers‘ names and documents. The border controls were carried out by volunteers, for which Frontex spent 1.5 million Euros.

The background to the pilot project is the imminent introduction of an Entry/Exit System (EES). All travellers from non-EU countries must register biometrically each time they cross an external EU border. This applies in particular to short-term visa holders and visa-free travellers from around 60 countries. „New control system: Frontex ends pilot project on facial recognition at EU borders“ weiterlesen

New camps in Greece: Panopticon for refugees

A „hotspot“ for asylum seekers is opening on Samos, which inmates describe as „Guantanamo“. The EU Commission finds such facilities dignified, and therefore finances them completely. The pilot project will be monitored with motion detectors, behavioural recognition and drones.

Two weeks ago, the Greek government opened the first of six new camps for refugees on the island of Samos. The new „Closed Controlled Access Centre“ is located about eight kilometres from the nearest small town in the middle of nowhere. It consists of hundreds of containers with air-conditioning, recreational rooms, a food bank, sports facilities and a playground, which, like all the other installations, are behind a double fence secured with NATO razor wire. Up to 3,000 people can be fenced in there, currently it started with 600.

The camp is divided by colour into regions and languages; green housing units are reserved for Arabic speakers, blue for Afghans and red for people of African origin. A purple area marks the COVID-19 quarantine station, and there is also a deportation prison on the premises. Announcements can be made to all inmates via a loudspeaker system. „New camps in Greece: Panopticon for refugees“ weiterlesen