Europe’s (digital) borders must fall: End the expansion of the EU’s EURODAC database


110 civil society organisations, including Statewatch, are calling for an end to the expansion of EURODAC, the EU database for the registration of asylum-seekers. EURODAC, designed to collect and store migrants’ data, is being transformed into an expansive, violent surveillance tool that will treat people seeking protection as crime suspects. This will include children as young as 6 whose fingerprints and facial images will be integrated into the database.

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This statement was coordinated by European Digital Rights.

Europe’s (digital) borders must fall: End the expansion of the EU’s EURODAC database

EURODAC is being expanded to enforce the EU’s discriminatory and hostile asylum and migration policies: increasing deportations, detention and a broader climate of racialised criminalisation.

The endless expansion of EURODAC must be stopped.

What is EURODAC?

Since its inception in 2003, the EU has repeatedly expanded the scope, size and function of EURODAC.

Created to implement the Dublin system and record the country responsible for processing asylum claims, it originally stored only limited information, mostly fingerprints, on few categories of people: asylum-seekers and people apprehended irregularly crossing the EU’s borders. From the start, this system has been a means to enforce a discriminatory and harmful deportation  regime, premised on a false framework of ‘illegality’ in migration.

After a first reform in 2013 allowing police to access the database, the EU continues to detach EURODAC from its asylum framework to re-package it as a system pursuing ‘wider immigration purposes’. The changes were announced in 2020 in the EU Migration Pact, the EU's so-called ‘fresh start on migration’. Rather than a fresh start, the proposals contain the harshest proposals in the history of the EU's migration policy: more detention, more violence, and a wider, evolved tool of surveillance in the EURODAC database to track, push back and deport ‘irregular’ migrants.

How is the EURODAC expansion endangering people’s human rights?

More people included into the database: Concretely EURODAC would collect a vast swathe of personal data (photographs, copies of travel and identity documents, etc.) on a wider range of people: those resettled, relocated, disembarked following search and rescue operations and arrested at borders or within national territories.

Data collection on children: The reform would also lower the threshold for storing data in the system to the age of six, extend the data retention periods and weaken the conditions for law enforcement consultation of the database.

Including facial images into the database: The reform also proposes the expansion to include facial images. Comparisons and searches run in the database can be based on facial recognition – a technology notoriously error-prone and unreliable that threatens the essence of dignity, non- discrimination and privacy rights. The database functions as a genuine tool of violence as it authorises the use of coercion against asylum-seekers who refuse to give up their data, such as detention and forced collection. Not only do these changes contradict European data protection standards, they demonstrate how the EU’s institutional racism creates differential standards between migrants and non-migrants.

Access by law enforcement: EURODAC’s revamp also facilitates its connection to other existing EU migration and police databases as part of the so-called ‘interoperability’ initiative - the creation of an overarching EU information system designed to increase police identity checks of non-EU nationals, leading to increased racial profiling. These measures also unjustly equate asylum seekers with criminals. Lastly, the production of statistics from EURODAC data and other databases is supposed to inform future policymaking on migration movement trends. In reality, it is expected that they will facilitate illegal pushbacks and overpolicing of humanitarian assistance.

End the expansion of EURODAC

The EURODAC reform is a gross violation of the right to seek international protection, a chilling conflation of migration and criminality and an out-of-control surveillance instrument. The far- right is already anticipating the next step, calling for the collection of DNA.

The EURODAC reform is one of many examples of the digitalisation of Fortress Europe. It is inconsistent with fundamental rights and will undermine frameworks of protection and rights of people on the move.

We demand:

  1. That the EU institutions immediately reject the expansion of EURODAC.
  2. For legislators to prevent further violence and ensure protection at and within borders when rethinking the EURODAC system.
  3. For legislators and EU Member States to establish safe and regular pathways for migrants and protective reception conditions.


  1. AG Nachhaltige Digitalisierung
  2. Abolish Frontex
  3. Access Now
  4. Africa Solidarity Centre Ireland
  5. AlgoRace
  6. AlgorithmWatch
  7. Àltera
  8. Asociación Por Ti Mujer
  9. Asociación Rumiñahui
  10. Association for Legal Intervention (Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej)
  11. AsyLex
  12. Bits of Freedom
  13. Blindspots
  14. Bürgerrechte & Polizei/CILIP
  15. CNCD-11.11.11
  16. CNVOS Slovenia
  17. Center for AI and Digital Policy (CAIDP)
  18. Center for Information Technology and Development
  19. Centre for Muslims' Rights in Denmark – CEDA
  20. Centre for Peace Studies
  21. Chaos Computer Club
  22. Civil Liberties Union for Europe
  23. Coalizione Italiana per le Libertà e i Diritti civili (CILD)
  24. D64
  25. Danes je nov dan, Inštitut za druga vprašanja
  26. Derechos Digitales
  27. Digitalcourage
  28. Digitale Gesellschaft
  29. Društvo Parada ponosa (Ljubljana Pride Association)
  30. European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN)
  31. Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice
  32. Equipo Decenio Afrodescendiente- España
  33. works
  34. EuroMed Rights
  35. European Civic Forum
  36. European Digital Rights (EDRi)
  37. European Movement Italy
  38. European Network Against Racism (ENAR)
  39. European Sex Workers Rights Alliance (ESWA)
  40. Forum InformatikerInnen für Frieden und gesellschaftliche Verantwortung (FIfF)
  41. Fundación CIVES
  42. Fundacja Centrum Badań Migracyjnych
  43. Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)
  44. Greek Forum of Migrants
  45. Greek Forum of Refugees
  46. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
  47. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights
  48. Homo Digitalis
  49. Homo Faber Association
  50. I Have Rights
  51. IDAY Liberia Coalition Inc.
  52. Infokolpa
  53. nodes
  54. Initiative Center to Support Social Action "Ednannia"
  55. Institucion De Asuntos Culturales De España
  56. Institute Circle
  57. International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
  58. International Women* Space
  59. Irídia - Centre per la defensa dels drets humans
  60. IT-Pol Denmark
  61. Ivorian Community of Greece
  62. KD Gmajna
  63. KOK German NGO Network against trafficking in Human Beings
  64. Kif Kif vzw
  65. LDH - Ligue des droits de l'Homme France
  66. La Strada International
  67. cat - Organitzacions per a la Justícia Global
  68. Legal Centre Lesvos
  69. Ligue algérienne pour la défense des droits de l'homme
  70. Ligue des droits humains (Belgium)
  71. Maison du Peuple d'Europe
  72. Mobile Info Team
  73. Naga
  74. National Federation of Polish NGOs (OFOP)
  75. netzbegrünung - Verein für Grüne Netzkultur e.V.
  76. New Europeans International
  77. Northern Lights Aid
  78. Novact
  79. Open Knowledge Foundation Germany
  80. PIC - Legal Center for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment
  81. Peace Institute
  82. Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM)
  83. Polish Migration Forum Foundation (Fundacja Polskie Forum Migracyjne)
  84. Polish Women's Strike
  85. Politiscope
  86. Privacy International
  87. Privacy Network
  88. Prostitution Information Center
  89. Quaker Council for European Affairs
  90. Queen Mary University of London
  92. Racism and Technology Center
  93. Red Umbrella Sweden
  94. Refugee Law Lab, York University
  95. Refugee Legal Support (RLS)
  96. Revibra Europe
  97. SOLIDAR & SOLIDAR Foundation
  98. Samos Volunteers
  99. Sans-Papiers Anlaufstelle Zürich SPAZ
  100. Sea-Watch e.V.
  101. Siempre vzw/asbl
  102. Statewatch
  103. Stichting LOS
  104. Stop Wapenhandel
  105. Stowarzyszenie Port, Przestrzeń otwarta
  106. Taraaz
  107. The Border Violence Monitoring Network
  108. Waterford Integration Services
  109. Yoga and Sport with Refugees
  110. Zavod za kulturo raznolikosti Open

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Further reading

23 November 2023

Digital rights and the protection of the right to asylum in the Charter of the European Union

The right to asylum, as delineated in Article 18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU) (‘the Charter’), does not grant the right to asylum to every individual seeking it. Instead, it articulates that everyone is entitled to have their application for international protection examined in line with international and EU law. This principle is reinforced by Article 19 of the Charter, which strictly prohibits collective expulsions and forbids the removal, expulsion or extradition of any person ‘to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’.

23 October 2023

Database delays: new timetable for interoperable EU policing and migration systems by 2027

EU interior ministers have agreed another revised timeline for the plan to make all justice and home affairs databases "interoperable", with the aim now to have the systems up and running by 2027. Mandatory biometric border checks may now be introduced progressively, in the hope of limiting delays at border crossing points.

Frontex and interoperable databases: knowledge as power?

<p><em>The EU’s border agency, Frontex, will be able to access vast quantities of data once the EU’s ‘interoperable’ policing and migration databases are fully operational. This briefing considers the agency’s use of data from two different perspectives – operational and statistical – and provides an overview of the agency’s role in the EU’s emerging “travel intelligence” architecture. It is aimed at informing understanding, analysis and critique of the agency and its role, with a view to making it possible to better understand, engage with and challenge future developments in this area.</em></p>


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