EU Presidency: Germany advocates „European Police Partnership“

The German Federal Ministry of the Interior wants to expand Europol and the international exchange of data during its EU Presidency. European police authorities will be supported with face recognition and decryption capabilities. Also on the agenda are the Europe-wide query of police files and the exchange on a definition of persons which pose „a potential terrorist/extremist threat“.

On 1 July Germany took over the six-monthly EU Council Presidency, the last time the Federal Government held the Presidency was in the first half of 2007. In the field of Justice and Home Affairs, the programme of the Interior and Justice Ministries is under the motto „A Europe of security and common values“. Germany is focusing on a „European Police Partnership“. The term is vaguely formulated; even when asked, the Ministry of Interior merely states that cross-border cooperation between police authorities is to be „improved“ and achieved by ensuring that „every police officer has access to the necessary information from other Member States“.

What is „necessary“ will therefore be defined by the German Ministry of the Interior in the next six months. The European Union has numerous formats for the exchange of information between police and customs, and its agencies are also involved. The „European Police Partnership“ is not intended to create new instruments, but to expand the existing ones. This includes new legislative procedures. „EU Presidency: Germany advocates „European Police Partnership““ 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

EU Entry/Exit System: Border police purchases new biometric control technologies

An EU regulation forces travellers from third countries to leave their fingerprints and facial image when crossing the border. All Member States must therefore invest in new infrastructure at land, sea and air borders. Because checks therefore take longer, authorities are procuring self-service kiosks for handing in biometric data.

More than two years ago, in November 2017, the European Union adopted the regulation establishing an „Entry/Exit System“ (EES). All third-country nationals, whether they require a visa or are exempt from the visa requirement, will soon be recorded with their biometric data when they cross an external Schengen border. This is intended to identify so-called „overstayers“, which refers to persons who overrun their visa and do not leave the country within the prescribed period. The electronic registration will also replace the manual stamping of passports.

In addition to personal data and identity documents, four fingerprints, the facial image and the date and place of entry and exit of travellers who have not applied for a visa are processed in the EES. If the travellers have already submitted their fingerprints when applying for a visa, these will also be imported. „EU Entry/Exit System: Border police purchases new biometric control technologies“ weiterlesen

EU merges biometric data pots: Now the query tsunami is coming

Under the keyword „Interoperability“, the large EU databases in the area of justice and home affairs will be interlinked. Fingerprints and facial images are stored with personal data in a searchable „Identity Repository“. Data queries are expected to increase drastically, with Europol alone expecting 100,000 per day.

The European Union is providing all information systems containing biometric data with new functions. They are partially merged and made searchable with a single click. This was agreed yesterday by the negotiators from the EU Parliament and the Council, writes the Romanian Council Presidency. This ends the struggle for a biometric data repository in which hundreds of millions of fingerprints and facial images will be stored, linked to personal data.

The data is to be kept centrally at the Agency for the Operational Management of Large IT Systems (eu-LISA) in Tallinn. The Agency is also responsible for technical management and secure data transmission. Technical implementation will begin in 2020 and the new capabilities should be operational by 2023. „EU merges biometric data pots: Now the query tsunami is coming“ weiterlesen

New data retention planned for border crossings of all European Union citizens

The European Union could soon save the date and place of each crossing of the EU’s external borders. Travellers’ identification documents would be read out and their biographical data saved along with information regarding border crossings. Police forces and intelligence services would have access to this data.

The European Commission published the final report of the High-Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability in May. According to this document, European border authorities could soon – unbeknownst to the travellers – be able to trawl through the travel routes of all nationals of EU member states. Alongside their biographical data, the system to be set up will log the direction in which borders are crossed. This new data repository on border crossings at all land, sea and air borders might form part of the Schengen Information System II (SIS II), which is the largest police and border authority database. Preference is being given to the establishment of an entirely new database, however. „New data retention planned for border crossings of all European Union citizens“ 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

Pretty complicated: The European data landscape

The Council of the European Union has published a diagram of all of information systems in the realm of justice and home affairs. This overview includes databases operated by the police, customs and agencies, as well as by Interpol. It also features the agreement between the EU and the USA on exchanging data regarding financial transactions.

A new diagram is intended to make it easier for delegations from European Union member states to get to grips with the data landscape in the area of justice and home affairs. This was against the backdrop of the High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability launched in the summer of last year, which is tasked with the development of proposals to improve file-sharing. The group is made up of members of the Commission and the member states, as well as external “experts”.

All existing information systems are to be assessed and tested for their usefulness. Uniform formats that are developed by the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police Office) and the police agency Europol are envisaged. A further aim is to improve the quality of the data supplied. A problem that the authorities run up against when dealing with decentralised systems is the fact that the member states often use different software programmes. The Expert Group is working to assess the feasibility of centralising systems in such cases. „Pretty complicated: The European data landscape“ weiterlesen

The road to a population register: EU Commission outlines roadmap for a “common repository of data”

With the statement “Data protection is all well and good, but in times of crisis like these, security takes precedence” the German Minister of the Interior called in March 2016 for a restructuring of EU databases. Major information systems, including biometric data, will be centralised on a step-by-step basis. The planned population register also affects EU citizens.

In April last year, the European Commission established a “high-level group of experts” (HLEG) to investigate „current shortcomings and knowledge gaps of information systems at Union level“. The group aims to find possible ways of improving IT systems and their interoperability. Previously, Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) called for the European Union to improve links between its data repositories. The Commission has now presented the interim report of the HLEG. „The road to a population register: EU Commission outlines roadmap for a “common repository of data”“ weiterlesen