How can the EU improve the way it handles migration data?

The EU uses three main databases for storing the information of migrants and asylum seekers. The Schengen Information System (SIS II) for wanted individuals, the Visa Information System for biometric data and the Eurodac fingerprint database for asylum seekers. The union plans to introduce four new systems to manage migration data, which will include databases for travel and criminal records. It will also include a system which hopes to allow the current systems to exchange and share information.

However, a recent report into the collection, storage and use of biometric data in the migration system has led to calls from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) for improvements to be made in way the EU handles its migration data. The report looked at the impact the current systems have on the rights of individuals, as set out in both EU laws and European Charter on Human Rights.

Some of the biggest problems with the current system, as found in the report were:

  • Some of the data found on the systems were inaccurate. For example, some dates of birth, along with other personal details, were incorrect
  • Not enough effort has been made to ensure people know how to use their personal data rights
  • Despite “significant efforts”, the EU still needs to do more to make sure low quality data handling doesn’t impact the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers
  • There were still issues when transferring data between the different systems

The report also said – “National authorities and experts attach a high degree of credibility to biometric data, and processing such data is technically complex. This makes it difficult for persons concerned to rebut errors in IT systems, and even more difficult to prove that a biometric match was incorrectly generated. FRA research shows that mistakes can occur when, for instance, a person’s fingerprints are mistakenly linked to another person’s alphanumeric data.”

The agency has now urged that new efforts are made in setting out new guidelines, simplifying procedures to reduce the number of mistakes and putting more focus on checking for inaccurate data. It has also called for more security safeguards to be introduced to ensure the data isn’t breached or unlawfully accessed.

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