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

Sharp increase of secret alerts in the Schengen Information System

European police forces and secret services use SIS II for covert surveillance of persons and property. The authorities are informed about suspects’ itineraries and persons accompanying them. The EU interior ministries are now discussing the further expansion of this surveillance method. Hits could be reported to several or all member states.

Secret alerts are being issued for increasing numbers of people in the European Union. This emerged from the Federal Ministry of the Interior’s response to a written inquiry. According to that, 129,412 persons were placed under secret surveillance using the Schengen Information System (SIS II) last year. In 2016, this figure was around 80,000. No information is available regarding the reasons for this sharp increase. Sharp increase of secret alerts in the Schengen Information System weiterlesen

Database on “European extremists”: How is the plan pursued since 2001 supposed to function?

After each major summit protest, there are calls for a European “troublemakers” database to be established. Centralised data storage at EU level or decentralised networking of national systems would be conceivable options. For a number of reasons, it has not been possible to set up a database of this kind since the turn of the millennium. The governing coalition in Germany has now announced a new initiative to this end following the G20 Summit in Hamburg.

Cooperation on summit events between European security authorities has been running like clockwork for more than 20 years. Police and intelligence services have exchanged information on threats and “individuals who pose a terrorist threat”, have assisted each another with personnel and equipment and seconded liaison officers. Shortly before such summits, the Schengen Agreement is partially suspended and border controls reintroduced while travel bans are imposed on undesirable protesters. Database on “European extremists”: How is the plan pursued since 2001 supposed to function? 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