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European Council sets regulatory framework for biometric data sharing between authorities

European Council sets regulatory framework for biometric data sharing between authorities

The European Council (EC) has adopted a pair of regulations to establish an interoperability framework for the EU’s justice and home affairs information systems, including a shared biometric matching service for facial images and fingerprints.

The new framework also establishes a European search portal, a common identity repository which contains biographic and biometric data of third-country nationals in the EU, and a multiple identity detector to check both biographic and biometric identity data. The change is intended to enable border control and law enforcement systems to complement each other to facilitate identification, combat identity fraud, and help prevent illegal migration.

A mandate to formulate the regulations was approved almost a year ago by the EC’s Permanent Representatives Committee. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights warned last year that with increasing use of biometrics, the EU will need to make sure adequate safeguards are in place to minimize rights violations.

The new regulations do not modify the rights of access that apply to the information systems, but are meant to support national authorities in security, border and migration management, visa processing, and asylum.

EU Parliament recently approved the aggregation of identity data for 350 million EU citizens in the Common Identity Repository (CIR).

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