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

Classified documents: Great Britain has been massively violating Schengen rules for years

Because of serious breaches, British participation in Europe’s SIS II should have been terminated long ago. With two years delay, the Commission now made proposals to remedy the shortcomings. This fuels the suspicion that the country should continue to participate in the database despite having left the EU.

The Schengen Information System (SIS II) is the largest European information system and currently contains around 90 million entries. In 2015, the EU Commission has granted access to Great Britain. However, the country is not a member of the Schengen Agreement, which regulates the abolition of border controls within the European Union, nor does it implement the free movement of persons. For this reason, British authorities are not allowed to enter or query data in the SIS II concerning irregular migration.

But Great Britain is misusing the SIS II on a large scale. The European Commission is aware of, but does not want to talk openly about it. This emerges from the reply to a parliamentary question and leaked documents on the UK implementation of the SIS II rules. Nevertheless, British authorities were given green light in 2018 to still participate in the database. „Classified documents: Great Britain has been massively violating Schengen rules for years“ 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

German Airports: Face recognition now also for children

When crossing an EU external border, all travellers will soon have to provide biometric data. This leads to long waiting times and border controls are therefore becoming increasingly automated. This will first benefit people who have already stored facial images on the chip of their „ePass“.

The German Federal Police is extending the use of so-called „eGAtes“ to children. Since the beginning of the holiday season in Germany, the „EasyPASS“ technology used there has been activated nationwide for persons aged 12 and over. The partially automated border control system controls the crossing of an external border of the European Union. It can be used voluntarily by nationals of all EU member states and Switzerland. Those who do not wish to be scanned automatically may have to accept queues at the usual „manual“ control lanes.

All seven major German airports are equipped with „EasyPASS“. As of last month, 230 „eGates“ have been installed, and over 73 million travellers have already passed through the systems. „German Airports: Face recognition now also for children“ weiterlesen

Mass travel monitoring: 500 new posts for German Passenger Name Record system

EU-wide surveillance of air travellers is gathering pace. In the first year, the German BKA manually inspected tens of thousands of passengers after the automated screening. The authorities ordered follow-up measures for 277 passengers. These include arrests, open or discreet checks.

German authorities continue to look for personnel to implement the retention of passenger data. Of the more than 500 posts planned for the new system, around one third are currently occupied. This was written by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior in response to questions on the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive.

The law passed in 2016 is intended to ensure comprehensive monitoring of air passengers. Airlines, travel agencies and other travel providers must transmit several dozen Passenger Name Records (PNR) to the responsible Passenger Information Unit (PIU) before each international flight. There they are stored and analysed in a Passenger Data Information System. The routinely processed information includes individual data, including name, address, flight connection, seat, meal requests or IP addresses. „Mass travel monitoring: 500 new posts for German Passenger Name Record system“ weiterlesen

Interpol investigates war crimes in Syria and Iraq

Many „foreign fighters“ return to their home countries, 40 Germans and 130 French citizens alone are to be transferred from Kurdish prisons. The authorities are collecting „battlefield evidence“ to bring them to court.

Many „foreign fighters“ in Syria or Iraq are citizens of EU member states, and after the defeat of the „Islamic State“ they return in part to their home countries. A total of 500 fighters and 900 supporters as well as 1,200 children and adolescents from 44 countries are said to be in the custody of Kurdish militias, but the figures are not substantiated. Without giving a source, the German magazine „Spiegel“ writes of 800 jihadists in total.

At least a dozen (Kurdish reports talk about 40) „foreign fighters“  are said to be detained by Kurdish militias, perhaps 130 from France. The Kurdish autonomous government is urging that they return to their country of origin and be brought to justice. Also the U.S. Government demands to bring these people to court at home, the issue was discussed at the recent meeting of the Global Coalition against IS. „Interpol investigates war crimes in Syria and Iraq“ 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