EU officials confirm UK authorities illegally copied biometric and other data from Schengen system

EU officials confirm UK authorities illegally copied biometric and other data from Schengen system

European Union officials have indirectly confirmed that UK authorities violated an information-sharing deal with the EU by sharing the contents of a law enforcement database, including biometric data, with U.S. companies, according to EUobserver.

In May 2018 EUobserver reported on a secret EU report which said UK government officials mismanaged and manipulated the Shengen Information System (SIS), which is used by police in Europe to track undocumented migrants, missing people, stolen property, or criminal suspects. Unauthorized copies of data from the SIS, including names, biographic information, photographs, fingerprints, and arrest warrants for roughly half a million non-EU citizens denied entry into the Schengen zone, plus more than 100,000 missing people and 36,000 criminal suspects were made after the UK was granted access to the database in 2015.

The report said that because of the misuse “persons sought for arrest for instance even for terrorism related activities by Schengen Associated Countries cannot be detected upon entry to the UK,” EUobserver reported last year. The 29-page document alleged that UK violations created a serious risk to the integrity and security of the data and the people it was collected from. The report also suggested that the UK ignored alerts from EU countries, so that stolen vehicles were not seized despite authorities being notified of them.

Copies of data were unlawfully stored on laptops and government offices, and were shared with private contractors including CGI, IBM, and ATOS. Those companies and others may be compelled by the Patriot Act to pass the data to the U.S. government.

Comments made last week by EU officials appear to have inadvertently confirmed the report.

European Commissioner for Security Julian King said that a country has taken “practical steps” to address illegal copying of classified information, and that other states have also had challenges following the rules. He did not specify that the state taking practical steps is the UK. Dutch member of EU Parliament Sophie in ‘t Veld has requested that the European Commission make the report public.

The UK has also requested that it be allowed continued access to the SIS following its exit from the EU.

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