26 February 2021
The screening and profiling of tourists and travellers to the EU could be stepped up even further with the use of "artificial intelligence" tools developed by EU agencies as part of the new 'Innnovation Hub for Internal Security'.
An 'Innovation Hub' was set up at Europol last year to try to foster cooperation between national and EU agencies and authorities on developing and testing new security technologies, and a note circulated by Europol to the Council's internal security committee (COSI) suggests that it has developed quickly.
According to the note, seven projects have been proposed as potential "quick wins" for the Hub, including an assessment of whether "artificial intelligence" could be used to screen and profile travellers and tourists as part of the forthcoming European Travel Information and Authorisation System.
It is already a legal obligation for this system to use an automated risk assessment and profiling tool on all visa-free travellers to the EU, but eu-Lisa - the EU's database management agency - considers that "AI could support this effort". (The Statewatch report Automated Suspicion examines the ETIAS in detail.)
Other projects under consideration include an examination of accountability mechanism in artificial intelligence in the justice and home affairs domain, monitoring of the darknet, the future of biometrics in travel, and the use of aerostats (large balloons tethered to the ground) for aerial surveillance. The full list is below.
See: Europol: EU Innovation Hub for Internal Security - State of Play (contained in Council document 5905/21, LIMITE, 17 February 2021, pdf)
The "quick-win" projects being considered by the Hub are:
With regard to the use of AI for the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), the document says:
"Article 33 of the ETIAS Regulation specifically asks for an algorithm to be developed to allow for automated profiling of travellers through the comparison of data recorded in ETIAS with pre-defined risk indicators and screening rules. The algorithm shall be based on the specific risk indicators to be defined by the ETIAS Central Unit. AI could support this effort. Considering the timeline of the implementation of the ETIAS system, this will be one of the first use cases where AI will be deployed within systems managed by eu-LISA. Cooperation with Frontex on this project is foreseen as the ETIAS Central Unit will play a key role. This project will be tested and deployed as early as possible and no later than the entry into operation of ETIAS before the end of 2022."
The aim of Europol's project on artificial intelligence and accountability is:
"...to define a set of universally applicable accountability principles to guide human-centred and socially driven AI capabilities for organisations within the security and justice sector. The project will also create a toolkit for security and justice practitioners to auto-evaluate future AI systems in light of the accountability principles. The outcome of the project could also inform the European co-legislators on the expected Commission proposal for AI legislation in April 2021 by providing a comprehensive account of the JHA Agencies’ approach to develop AI tools in an accountable and responsible manner."
It should be noted that "accountability principles" are not the same thing as the law.
The Hub has apparently proven popular:
"More than 30 participants representing nine JHA Agencies (CEPOL, EASO, EIGE, EMCDDA, eu-LISA, Eurojust, Europol, FRA and Frontex), the European Commission (JRC, DG Home), the General Secretariat of the Council and the Office of the EU Counterterrorism Coordinator have met every fortnight since November 2020."
The principal shortcoming identified by the Presidency is a lack of dedicated resources:
"Further progress to make a real difference and to fulfil the objectives set by the COSI (becoming a joint EU platform to support the delivery of innovative cutting-edge products for the security of citizens in the EU), will depend the allocation of dedicated personnel and budget from the Agencies involved."
A separate document brings up questions of governance and coordination, and calls for further input from member state representatives: Presidency: The EU Innovation Hub- Way Forward - Governance and Operational Tasks (5906/21, LIMITE, 17 February 2021, pdf):
"In view of the Presidency the following aspects are therefore important to highlight at this stage to support further development of the EU Innovation Hub:
Delegations are invited to express their views on the issues outlined above."
Spotted an error? If you've spotted a problem with this page, just click once to let us know.
Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author. Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement. Registered UK charity number: 1154784. Registered UK company number: 08480724. Registered company name: The Libertarian Research & Education Trust. Registered office: c/o MDR, 88 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1DH, UK. © Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals "fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.