01 February 2018
Interoperability of EU databases - The Meijers Committee
- Unintended consequencies?
- Targeting third country nationals
- Casting a very wide net?
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Their comments include:
"According to the
explanatory memorandum, access to data is reserved exclusively
for duly authorised staff of the Member State authorities or
EU bodies that are competent for the specific purposes of each
information system and limited to the extent that the data are
required for the performance of tasks in accordance with these
[emphasis added throughout]
The proposal as such does not alter the specific purposes of the EU databases involved. However, on the basis of the proposal, every designated authority of Member States will be able, via the European Search Portal, to learn about the fact that information on a third-country national is stored in one of the EU databases. In other words, the access of authorities to the European Search Portal is not restricted to their specific competence or task, whereas this specific competence or task currently limits their access to the specific EU databases. Therefore, information retrieved via the European Search Portal will establish that somebody is included in, for example, Eurodac or in SIS II. This implies a widening of the purpose of these databases: even if access to the personal file in this database is not allowed because lack of authorisation, the authority will have gained knowledge of the existence of the file.
Moreover, the mere knowledge that a persons data are included in a particular database gives an authority a view of that persons actions, which can in itself be an interference with the right to data protection laid down in Article 8 of the Charter (and with Article 7 of the Charter on the right to privacy). This requires that the proportionality of this access should be assessed."
Targeting third country nationals
"A specific issue in this context relates to the fact that the proposal concerns the interoperability of systems which do not only have different purposes, but also include different categories of data subjects.The systems include data of individuals because they are linked to criminal behaviour or illegal border crossing, as well as bona fide persons (included in Eurodac and VIS). It should be explained interoperability will not lead to the mixing up of these categories."
Casting a very wide net?
"Specifically, the explanatory
memorandum emphasizes this differentiated treatment between EU
citizens and third-country nationals in view of the goal of preserving
security in the EU: Whilst not directly affecting EU
nationals (the proposed measures are primarily focused on third-country
nationals whose data is recorded in an EU centralised information
system), the proposals are expected to generate increased
public trust by ensuring that their design and use increases
the security of EU citizens. This justification basically means
that third country nationals should be subject to additional
security checks - even if there is no connection to any illegal
behaviour - in order to make EU citizens feel more secure.
Furthermore, the explicit objective of the proposal of facilitating identity checks of third country nationals by police organisation within the EU territory, to see whether information on this person is stored in one or more of the EU databases, will enhance the possibility of third-country nationals (or those considered to be third-country nationals) being stopped for identity checks."
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