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Renewed attack on EU’s proposed Eurodac biometric upgrade

Renewed attack on EU’s proposed Eurodac biometric upgrade
 

Dozens of civil society organizations have renewed their demand that the EU stop expanding the capabilities of its biometric asylum-registration infrastructure.

Expressing their opposition in an open letter, they say expansion likely will threaten the human rights of would-be migrants. A similar statement with overlapping authorship was published in 2021.

The portfolio of the Eurodac database system, which began recording the fingerprints of asylum seekers 20 year ago, would grow significantly if pending legislation passes. An upgrade, referred to as a recast, to Eurodac has been debated for almost a decade, and it is difficult to know where it eventually will land.

Face biometrics of asylum-seekers and irregular migrants would be included in the upgrade, according to tentative agreement in 2018 between the European Parliament and European Council, two-thirds of the bodies needed to enact a law. The EU Commission is the third.

The proposal also calls for lowering the age at which subjects could be fingerprinted from 14 years old to six years old, and EUobserver reports an agreement is imminent. As well, Europol would be given a more streamlined process for searching Eurodac, a loose acronym for European Dactyloscopy Database.

Proponents say it would bolster criminal and terror investigations and better manage the flow of migrants before, during and after they arrive at the EU’s external borders.

Migrant and privacy advocates don’t see it in the same light.

They say the new Eurodac would pull in more biometric and document records from more people in more categories: those being resettled and relocated, those who’ve been aided in search-and-rescue operation and those arrested in the EU’s borders.

They also cite accuracy and bias statistics of facial recognition algorithms.

Signatories include European Digital Rights (EDRi), Privacy International, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and Access Now.

Eurodac is a component of eu-LISA, the EU Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice.

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