Western Balkans: Clandestine connection to EU databases

Even without imminent EU accession, all third countries in South-East Europe will gradually be connected to European information systems. They will set up a fingerprint database along the lines of the EU model and, as in the Prüm Treaty, will make it possible to query biometric data. Secret services in the Western Balkans also use the Schengen Information System through a back door.

Albania, Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro are EU accession candidates, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are considered potential candidate countries. All governments therefore receive so-called Pre-accession Assistance for the development of police and border police capabilities. They are based on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement that the countries have concluded with the EU.

The European Union now wants to significantly expand security cooperation with all the countries of the Western Balkans. One focus is on irregular migration. The governments in South-East Europe have already received 216 million Euros for their control since 2007, and funds of a similar amount have flowed into the construction and operation of camps for refugees. According to a proposal by the Croatian Council Presidency, the Western Balkan governments should now set up a biometric database for refugees. It will be based on the Eurodac database, in which EU member states process the fingerprints of asylum seekers. The two fingerprint systems could then be merged after possible EU accession. In addition to fingerprints, Eurodac also stores facial images, but they are not yet searchable. „Western Balkans: Clandestine connection to EU databases“ 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

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

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

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

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