EU rights agency concerned about plans to connect migration databases

Vienna   – Proposals to connect several large EU immigration databases pose various risks for human rights, the bloc’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) warns.
On Wednesday, the Vienna-based EU agency published a report on biometric data and their current and future use in EU data systems.

Personal data of immigrants

Currently, three databases are used to process asylum claims, visa applications, as well as police and border checks.
The EU is currently mulling a plan to link these existing databases, as well as future ones that are supposed to identify travellers who overstay their visas or who pose risks to the public.

The gains and risks of this plan

“There are fundamental rights gains, but also big risks” associated with the European Commission’s plan, said Ann-Charlotte Nygard, who manages FRA’s work on migration.
On the positive side, connecting the various data sets would make it easier to find missing migrant children and to fight criminals who exploit them.
However, the FRA’s rights experts warned that interconnecting these databases make them more attractive targets for foreign government hackers and cybercriminals.

Link databases

Even today, EU data on asylum seekers are “particularly attractive for hacking by oppressive regimes,” the rights watchdog said.
Linking migration databases can also make it more difficult for migrants to get personal entries removed or corrected, and it increases the risk that law enforcement officers access data that they are not supposed to use, according to the FRA.