„Partial unavailability“: Largest EU police database repeatedly down

Since the Schengen Information System has been run by an EU agency, it has failed completely on at least 34 occasions. The latest incidents are only now being made public.

The Schengen Information System (SIS II), launched in 1995, is the largest European information system. As a police database, it forms the digital backbone of the Schengen Agreement, with which the European Union strengthens the surveillance of its external borders against unwanted migration and cross-border crime. It is queried by the participating authorities of the Schengen states during every police check, but also when applying for documents.

Since 2013, the Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA ), which was founded a year earlier, has been managing the SIS II central system. It has now become known that the database, which is physically located in Strasbourg, has been completely offline several times since then. This is what the EU Commission writes in the not yet officially available answer to a written question by MEP Cornelia Ernst. This led, accordingly, to a „degradation and partial unavailability of some of the functionalities of the system“. „„Partial unavailability“: Largest EU police database repeatedly down“ weiterlesen

New super-databases: EU agencies get experience from the USA

The EU wants to store fingerprints and facial images of over 400 million people from third countries in a single silo. US authorities already have such a system for around 275 million people. Both sides now want to cooperate more closely on this matter.

The European Union is currently merging all databases containing biometric data into a new system. Under the heading of „Interoperability“, this involves the Schengen Information System, the visa database, the fingerprint system for asylum seekers and a file on foreign convicts in terrorism proceedings.

In this way, a new super-database is being created, which will be supplemented next year by an Entry/Exit System (EES). After refugees and those requiring visas, all other travellers from third countries will then also have to hand over their biometric data when crossing the border into the EU. The entire new system could then contain fingerprints and facial images of over 400 million people from third countries, writes Sopra Steria, one of the contractors for the interoperability project. „New super-databases: EU agencies get experience from the USA“ weiterlesen

New regulation: Europol becomes the Big Data police

Following the decision of the EU interior ministers, the new Europol law will come into force in June. The police agency will thus receive new areas of responsibility and powers.

Comparatively quickly, EU member states and the Parliament have launched a new Europol regulation. Once set up to fight drug trafficking, the agency is being given even more powers. However, the agency in The Hague is still not a „European FBI“.

At the end of 2020, the Commission had presented its proposal for the new regulation; in May this year, the three EU decision-making bodies agreed on a final version. After the Parliament, the EU interior ministers also confirmed the final version last week. Now only the publication in the Official Journal is missing, then the new law will apply. „New regulation: Europol becomes the Big Data police“ weiterlesen

Traveller screening: Europol wants to collect data on Europeans crossing borders

Frontex and Europol want to create an indivdual file for all travellers and check it against various databases. The analysis is to be carried out with AI.

EU agencies Europol and Frontex are proposing to link different databases to improve the screening of business travellers and tourists. A profile is to be automatically created for every person who wants to cross an external European border. The information contained in this „traveller file“ would then be subject to risk analysis.

The proposal can be found in the final report of a „Future Group for Travel Intelligence and Border Management“, in which Europol and Frontex have joined forces with unspecified experts from police, secret services, border and customs authorities. The envisaged platform is called the European System for Traveller Surveillance (ESTS). „Traveller screening: Europol wants to collect data on Europeans crossing borders“ 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

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

Information systems at Europol: Fishing the „data lake“ with a new dragnet

The EU police agency has completely restructured its information systems. German authorities are by far the main users for storage and query. Through a parliamentary question, the successor of Palantir software at Europol is now known.

The European Police Agency in The Hague has various databases, the largest of which is the centralised „Europol Information System“ (EIS). There, police forces of member states put suspects, convicts or „potential“ future criminals when the offences in question fall within Europol’s remit. These include serious or organised crime and terrorism.

For this, personal data, national insurance numbers and telephone numbers, e-mail or IP addresses, evidence can be stored in the EIS, including searchable facial images, non-coding DNA data and fingerprints. The member States retain ownership of the data they transfer, national authorities can determine the purpose for which it is used and set restrictions. „Information systems at Europol: Fishing the „data lake“ with a new dragnet“ weiterlesen

Amendment of SIS II Regulation: Europol to coordinate proposals for alerts from third countries

The EU police agency is to receive lists of persons from foreign authorities and then have them alerted in the Schengen area for refusal of entry, arrest or observation. This legalises a questionable procedure that has long been practised.

Can the US FBI put a Tunisian national on a European database for refusal of entry, even if there is no proof that he belongs to a terrorist organisation as claimed? Should it be permissible for Europol to initiate such alerts even at the behest of an intelligence service from Serbia or Egypt, so that the person concerned is arrested when crossing the border into the Schengen area?

It is certain that the Schengen Information System (SIS II) will soon be supplemented by such a regulation. However, it was disputed between the EU Parliament and the Member States in the Council what role Europol should play in mediating such searches for third-country nationals. Tomorrow, the so-called trilogue negotiations are to be concluded with a consensus between Council and Parliament; after their formal decision in the competent bodies, the regulation would then be valid as of summer. „Amendment of SIS II Regulation: Europol to coordinate proposals for alerts from third countries“ 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

Migration control: EU agency spends € 1.5 billion on virtual borders

The launch of the new Entry/Exit System is delayed to September 2023, the Commission says the contracted companies are to blame.

Between 2014 and 2020 alone, Frontex and eu-LISA agencies spent a total of €1.9 billion on contracts for border surveillance and control systems. This figure is provided by the British civil rights organisation Statewatch, which analysed tenders on the European procurement platform. The money went mainly to large corporations from the IT sector and to arms companies.

Around a quarter of the money was spent on Frontex. After the so-called „migration crisis“, the EU border agency began setting up its own air surveillance service in 2016. This flight service with charter aircraft was supplemented last year by contracts for two large drones in the central Mediterranean. In the current budget, around one-sixth of the agency’s annual budget goes towards leasing the manned and unmanned aircraft. „Migration control: EU agency spends € 1.5 billion on virtual borders“ weiterlesen