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EU’s Prüm II rolls on; will it roll over privacy concerns?

EU’s Prüm II rolls on; will it roll over privacy concerns?

The debate over an update to a biometrics-sharing agreement in the EU is simple enough. Either there’re no human rights without state security or human rights must yield for state security.

It was all in the open this week as the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted in favor of Prüm II. The policing update would make cooperation and biometric data sharing easier and more pervasive.

Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, who backs Prüm II, reportedly said in session that organized crime is as dangerous to the EU as is terrorism.

“We have to counter this threat with all the means at our disposal,” Johansson said, according to Euractiv, a Dutch public-private news publication.

From that point of view, the automated sharing of personal data, including biometrics among EU members and Europol (and maybe the United States), is a necessary new capability for crime fighters.

Also in the debate was MEP Gwendoline Delbos-Corfiled, a Prüm II critic and member of the Greens/European Free Alliance.

The upgrade will “increase police powers across Europe and reduce the control we have over our own data,” Delbos-Corfiled reportedly said. It will also make it harder for people to evaluate police and to deter feared police state, she said.

Officials with the advocacy group EDRi, or European Digital Rights, say Prüm II is part of a trend in which governments feel empowered to treat people as “potential criminals.” Leaders should instead address the underlying causes of crime.

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