April 26, 2013 -
On the back of a new deal, EU member states’ police forces and Europol could gain access to asylum seekers’ fingerprint information in the Eurodac database in a move to fight terrorism and serious crime.
The new provisional deal between Parliament and Council endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee, assures that personal data would be protected and police access would be limited to cases with major public security concerns.
According to the European Parliament, Eurodac stores the fingerprints of asylum seekers over 14, and since 2003 it has been used to determine which member state is responsible for dealing with asylum applications.
“Law enforcement access to the fingerprints storied in Eurodac on a ‘hit or nothing’ bases in cases of serious crime or terrorism is a major step forward in stepping up the fight against crime,” rapporteur Monica Macovei said. “Safeguards for protecting individual rights are there.”
According to the same report form European Parliament, police could only request a comparison of fingerprint data with those stored in Eurodac after checking their own national databases and those of all EU countries, as well as the Visa Information System.
The new deal, which gained 42 votes in favor, 8 against and 5 abstention, will be put to a plenary vote in June, together with three other remaining acts forming the backbone of the Common European Asylum System.
Reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, this was previously proposed by the European Commission in 2009, but was opposed by civil society groups. IT was feared that the proposal would stigmatize those who have been given asylum and would jeopardize the presumption of innocence in criminal cases.