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23 Apr 2019

EU Votes to Create a Gigantic Biometrics Database

EU Biometrics DatabaseThe European Union has moved forward with its plans to create a gigantic biometrics database, despite facing criticism for putting privacy rights at stake through it.

Last week, the European Parliament has adopted a legislation that will enable EU information systems to exchange records through the Common Identity Repository (CIR), which is set to gather data for over 150 million individuals. The move has been taken as a further attempt to simplify the jobs of EU border and law enforcement officers.

According to a press release by the European Parliament, the new system will facilitate the tasks of border guards, migration officers, police officers and judicial authorities by providing them with more systematic and faster access to various EU security and border-control information systems.

The systems covered by the new rules would include the Schengen Information System, Eurodac, the Visa Information System (VIS) and three new systems: the European Criminal Records System for Third Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN), the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS),” the press release reads.

The EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos asserted that the Security Union is steadily taking shape with a whole range of tools, actions and rules being put in place to protect all EU citizens.

Whereas, the Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said that the new adoptions mark another important milestone in the work of the EU towards an effective and genuine Security Union.

Interoperability will help those working in the frontline to keep EU citizens safe – ensuring police and border guards have efficient access to the information they need, including to fight identity fraud, enables them to do their jobs properly,” he said a day after the Parliament had adopted the legislation.

EU Criticized for Putting Privacy Rights at Stake

Watchdog and non-profit organizations have long criticized the move for establishing such a system.

Non-profit organization Statewatch published a report last year titled “Interoperability morphs into the creation of a Big Brother centralized EU state database including all existing and future Justice and Home Affairs databases.”

According to the report the notion that these plans are simply bringing together existing data and biometrics, and so there is nothing to be afraid of, is untrue.

If there has been one clear lesson since 11 September 2001 it is that function creep is the name of the game. From the late 1970s onwards each new stage of the technological revolution has been justified on the grounds that there is nothing new, it is just making life easier for law enforcement and border control agencies to get access to the information they need to do their job more efficiently. Whereas the reality is that at each stage databases become ever more intrusive as security demands cumulatively diminish freedoms and rights,” the report concludes among others.

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