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In US and Europe, biometric data exchange key to stopping human trafficking

In US and Europe, biometric data exchange key to stopping human trafficking

A new agreement between Costa Rica and the U.S. under the Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Information Sharing Partnerships (BDSP) framework will enable the two countries to trade biometric data in real time, according to The Costa Rica News.

According to Cynthia Telles, the US ambassador in San José, the program will “improve the collection and comparison of biometric data from Costa Rica and strengthen management and security in the region.” Mass migration is cited as a catalyzing problem, as is increasing identity fraud and human trafficking.

The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls the memorandum “a significant step towards the implementation of the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) and cooperation in the comprehensive fight against trafficking.”

Breaks put on expansion of Europol powers but data exchange remains

A controversial proposal to extend Europol’s power in fighting human smuggling and trafficking could be throttled by a new compromise proposal put forth by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU. According to Statewatch, language in the compromise eliminates almost everything from the first proposal, which critics have accused of being a power grab by the EU law enforcement agency.

One element that does remain is the formation of operational task forces led by member states, which Europol will support in providing analytical, operational, technical and forensic support, and assist in “the effective and efficient processing of biometric data.”

Another is the introduction of a mandatory requirement for the member states and Europol to exchange information on smuggling and trafficking cases. The European Commission considers the requirement to be the most important factor in facilitating effective cooperation. The Belgian proposal largely maintains it, in that there is some laxity in obligations for member states to withhold information such as biometrics, but little in the case of the operational task forces.

The exchange of information between Europol, member states, and third parties takes place through the Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA).

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