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EU blankets borders with surveillance tech to deter refugees: investigation

EU blankets borders with surveillance tech to deter refugees: investigation

A new investigation by The Guardian has shed light on several high-tech surveillance biometrics and deterrent systems deployed by some European countries to deter asylum seekers from crossing EU borders.

These include thermal cameras and sensors used by Greece along its land border with Turkey, and heartbeat detectors and CO2 monitors to detect people hidden inside vehicles.

Greece also reportedly established a €38 million ($42.88 million) refugee camp in September for 3,000 asylum seekers, with access controlled via fingerprint biometrics, turnstiles, and X-rays. Two similar camps opened in November, and the country plans to open two more.

The Guardian investigation reviews Poland’s recently approved plan to build a €350 million ($394.93 million) wall along its Belarus border featuring advanced cameras and motion sensors. AI-based lie detection systems have also been trialed, in the form of the iBorderCtrl project, which the European Court of Justice is about to rule on.

Air surveillance is also attracting EU investments, according to the Guardian, with border agency Frontex frequently using military-grade drones to locate refugees in different parts of the EU.

For context, the agency has been particularly active in the last few months, releasing the results of a new research project in September, and completing its Entry Exit System pilot in Spain and Bulgaria last month.

The Guardian project is only the latest in a series of investigations regarding the potential dubious use of biometrics tools at and beyond Europe’s borders to control migration.

Privacy International raised concerns in 2020 about a project to collect biometrics from people before they arrive in Europe, and the plan to consolidate identity databases in the Common Identity Repository has been scrutinized by Statewatch and Codastory.

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