Last week European Parliament approved the establishment of an international biometric database referred to as the Common Identity Repository (CIN), a means to better help international authorities in securing EU borders. According to the systems parameters, the database will include identity records, including names, dates of birth, passport numbers, and other personally identifiable information, in conjunction with biometric information such as fingerprints and facial scans of both EU and non-EU citizens – estimated to encompass roughly 350 million individuals at the start.
More specifically, according to EU officials, “the systems covered by the new rules would include the Schengen Information System, Eurodac, the Visa Information System (VIS) and three new systems: the European Criminal Records System for Third Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN), the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).” Explaining that the move comes in response to an effort to consolidate multiple databases into one browse-able place, serving to consolidate information – thus speeding up and making the jobs of border security officials much easier/proficient – whilst also simultaneously modernizing civilian records into the 21st century.
With that said however, the vote is not without controversy. In May 2018, in anticipation of this very move, an organization known as State Watch published an investigative report into the pitfalls, short-comings and privacy violations such a database presents – see pdf accompanying this article below. Additionally, the FBI has also come under heavy scrutiny for similar databases in the US, ultimately forced to go to court after it was revealed the agency had been secretly stockpiling the biometrics records of US citizens without alerting them to this – a clear violation of the US Privacy Act in 2016. While a federal judge did finally rule in their favor in 2017, it was later revealed that the FBI’s biometric database was hacked by the CIA, which was later hacked by Russia, meaning that all US biometric data once owned by the US Government is now out in the wild. For obvious reasons, these are all situations/lessons the EU should look to learn from as they move forward with this new initiative in the future.
Copy – State Watch Investigation: https://statewatch.org/analyses/eu-interop-morphs-into-central-database.pdf
Common Identity Repository (CIN) Slideshow Presentation :02.Rinkens.Secure safe societies_EU interoperability_4-3_v1.0