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Council: EU JHA agencies want access to all fingerprints, palm prints and facial images held under interoperability plans
24.9.17
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The Council of the European Union's DAPIX: Working Group: Friends of Presidency on interoperability of EU information systems is discussing: Access to central EU systems for borders and security (LIMITE doc no: 12258-17,pdf):

"the Commission was called upon to propose a comprehensive framework for law enforcement access to the various databases in the area of justice and home affairs, ‘with a view to greater simplification, consistency, effectiveness and attention to operational needs'" [emphasis added throughout]

Based on the Final Report of the High Level Group of Experts (pdf) which recommended the creation of:

"a single-search interface [SSI] to query several information systems simultaneously and to produce combined results on one single screen;

- the establishment of a shared biometric matching service and

- a common repository of data for different information systems."

The Council Presidency Note calls upon the Commission to set up:

"a new law enforcement access approach based on differentiating between: (i) identification and investigation, and (ii) normal processes and emergency situations."

Where the:

"purpose is identification of a suspect, perpetrator or victim of a crime, the systems should be swiftly accessible without prior authorisation and in one search using, where possible, alphanumeric identity data, facial images or fingerprints. The queries should be logged and responses from the systems should in the first instance be provided on a hit/no-hit basis only.

- Only in case of actual hits should access to system data be necessary. This access should continue to require, except in emergency situations and under clearly defined conditions, ex ante verification and authorisation in accordance with the respective legal bases of the systems.

- Requests for investigations should continue to require, except in emergency situations and under clearly defined conditions, ex ante verification and authorisation. This should immediately lead to full access to all relevant systems and should not be subject to a cascade procedure."

The Council Presidency is looking for an:

"the overview of current conditions and possibilities for access to central EU systems for borders and security set out in the Annex and in view of contributing to the upcoming legislative proposal on interoperability, which, in line with the recommendations of the High-Level Expert Group, will aim at creating;

the European Search Portal (ESP)
the shared Biometric Matching Service (sBMS) and
the Common Identity Repository (CIR)."

And:

"As regards access to EU systems for identification purposes, it is currently possible to access most systems in the context of border controls and migration management (no specific restrictions, the person to be identified is present) but not in the context of police checks (for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties)."

Member States are asked whether access for identification should not be extended or are too limited.

The Annex to the Note sets out to: "identify various information gaps."

All the EU Justice & Home Affairs agencies have or want access to:

"alphanumeric data
- biographic data
- fingerprints
- palm prints
- facial images"

In July 2017 the DAPIX (Friends of Presidency) - Interoperability of EU information systems (11547-17, pdf) said:

"The Working Party took note of the presentation by the Commission on the upcoming legislative proposal on interoperability of EU information systems. The Commission intends to focus on four key challenges: (i) the fact that end users are faced with complicated access rules and the data may not be not available when and where needed; (ii) access by law enforcement authorities to non-law enforcement databases (VIS, EURODAC, EES, ETIAS); (iii) risks associated with identity fraud; (iv) interoperability of ETIAS with other EU systems.

As the solutions to these key issues, the Commission intends to suggest: (i) a European Search Portal with access to SIS, VIS, EES, ETIAS and EURODAC. Links to the Europol data and ECRIS-TCN could be considered. The flagging functionality would be the key feature of the search portal; (ii) the shared Biometric Matching Service (BMS) for SIS, VIS, EURODAC and EES. Links with Europol are under consideration; (iii) the Common Identity Repository to allow for searching of alphanumerical identity data."

"Flagging" means placing an alert on an individual for surveillance or arrest.

And:

"A number of technical studies are currently ongoing:

• on the European Search Portal: launched in April, to be finalised by the end of September;
• on the shared Biometric Matching Service: carried out by eu-LISA, to be concluded in October-November;
• on the Common Identity Repository: launched in the third week of July, to be concluded by November.

There are also other technical studies planned: (i) on mobile applications in border areas (linked to ETIAS), (ii) on persons not covered by the EES, (iii) on the API interactive solution, and (iv) on the data warehouse at eu-LISA."

Background

EU: Council, Europol and "expert group" press on with plans to boost "information exchange and information management" (Statewatch database)

Council moves quickly to get interoperable centralised database operative (Statewatch database)

EU wastes no time welcoming prospect of Big Brother databases (Statewatch database)

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