29 March 2023
The European Commission’s plan for a “security-related information sharing system between frontline officers in the EU and key partner countries” should be scrapped, says a paper signed by 10 organisations, including Statewatch, who warn that it may aid political repression and underpin human rights violations.
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The aim of the plan is to allow reciprocal police and border guard access to data for EU member states and non-member states alike. “At present, there is no EU mechanism in place to systematically make critical and actionable partner-country sourced information available directly and in real time to frontline border guards or police officers in the Member States,” says a document published by the Commission (pdf).
Thus, despite a wealth of existing information-sharing schemes – many of which, as the submission points out, have yet to be put into use – the Commission is seeking yet another system, which it says will “ensure increased security in the EU as frontline officers will have direct access to security-related information from partner countries, enabling them to take instant action in case someone representing a threat is located.”
The submission argues that the documentation published so far by the Commission fails to demonstrate the necessity of the scheme, raises the risks of data obtained via torture or other human rights violations being used by EU member states, may aid political repression via the sharing of data on suspected or alleged dissidents, and will further bolster the externalisation of EU borders. It calls for the plan to be scrapped.
The submission includes case studies looking at the Middle East and North Africa, and the Western Balkans regions, to highlight some of the potential problems with such a scheme.
The full submission is available here.
The Commission’s initiative for a ‘Security-related information sharing system between frontline officers in the EU and key partner countries’ is a further development along the path of problematic border externalisation, and a trend of increasing use of large-scale processing of the personal data of non-EU citizens for combined criminal law and immigration control purposes, that civil society has been speaking out against for years.
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. In particular, its access to extensive new sets of statistics is intended to increase the detail, influence and reach of its risk analyses and policy recommendations.
The new rules governing Europol, which came into force at the end of June, massively expand the tasks and powers of the EU’s policing agency whilst reducing external scrutiny of its data processing operations and rights protections for individuals, says a report published today by Statewatch.
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