• data privacy,
  • surveillance

A one-stop shop that would allow police and border guards to cross-check EU and non-EU individuals against security databases across the Union has been labelled as “dangerous, unnecessary and costly” by a Left MEP.

The proposals came about in order to plug the supposed gaps between the various EU law enforcement and borders agencies’ databases. By ‘improving’ this so-called ‘interoperability’, this would effectively create a brand new, massive surveillance machine.

In principle, the ability of these police and border agencies’ computer systems and software to exchange and make use of information would only apply to those in a number of existing databases.

However, the Commission’s plans will end up creating a huge database containing personal information, including biometric data, of millions of people – information that is collected for very different purposes, both for migration control and crime prevention.

The Commission proposal has already been criticised by several organisations and independent bodies. The European Data Protection Supervisors, for example, warned the Parliament and the Council that such an interoperability would ‘change the way legal principles have been interpreted in this area so far’ and would as such mark a ‘point of no return’, urging extreme caution and a wider political debate before adopting the proposal.

Yet, the right-wing EPP group tried to hurry through the procedures to ensure the regulation is adopted before the next elections. This has been condemned by GUE/NGL’s Cornelia Ernst (DIE LINKE., Germany), who tabled nearly 200 amendments to increase the safeguards and improve the Commission proposal but only succeeded in a few. She said of today’s vote in the civil liberties committee:

“The main logic of this instrument is dangerous.”

“This initiative is unnecessary and disproportionate – and it is extremely expensive. Upon the altar of ‘security’, it will sacrifice the right to privacy of millions of people and not only non-European citizens but also EU citizens!”

“This new, massive database risks more abuse by both EU agencies and member state authorities. Moreover, by blurring the lines between migration control and the fight against crime, it conveys the message that migrants and foreigners are likely to be criminals and terrorists!”

“Sadly, we fear that this is just the start. If EU lawmakers continue to following this logic, an Orwellian surveillance machine will soon become reality,” she concluded.

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