Feeds

Privacy watchdog slams European border control plans

Will put privacy at risk for no added security

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Europe's top privacy watchdog has condemned planned European border controls as weak and based on inconclusive evidence, claiming they will put Europeans' privacy at risk with no guarantee of increased security.

European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Husinx has said proposals announced last month by the European Commission to tighten border controls through the use of biometric identification have failed to consider privacy implications closely enough.

"It is crucial that the impact on the privacy rights of individuals crossing the EU borders is adequately taken into account," said Hustinx. "A lack of data protection safeguards would not only mean that the individuals concerned might suffer unduly from the proposed measures, but also that the measures will be less effective, or even counter productive, by diminishing public trust in government action."

EU commissioner for justice, freedom and security Franco Frattini announced proposals for an electronic entry and exit register for non-EU visitors, a border surveillance system, and improvements to existing border control arrangements. He proposed a greater use of biometric technology to identify people.

Hustinx, though, said Frattini's plans contained weaknesses and were not based on sound evidence of the problems generated by existing systems.

"Proposals for the creation of the entry-exit system and the Electronic Travel Authorisation System rely heavily on the use of biometrics," said a statement from the office of the EDPS. "Although offering considerable advantages, the use of biometrics presents inherent weaknesses (mainly in terms of accessibility and accuracy) that will need to be properly addressed."

Hustinx's office also said it was unclear that the scale of the problem demanded systems which could threaten people's privacy rights. "The immigration figures contained in the impact assessment published by the Commission are based mainly on estimates or samples, not on undisputable data. Infringements on the privacy of individuals should be based on solid grounds, clearly demonstrating their need and how extensive they should be," it said.

The EDPS also drew attention to the large number of proposals recently made by commission officials to deal with border controls.

"The EDPS is concerned that far reaching proposals intended to contribute to the monitoring of travellers (e.g. Second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), Visa Information System (VIS), review of Eurodac Regulation, Passenger Name Records, etc) are succeeding each other rapidly, making it difficult for stakeholders to have a comprehensive overview," the statement said.

The European Commission's focus on border controls has been motivated by concerns about immigration and by worries about security in the aftermath of several terrorist attacks this decade, including those in New York and Madrid.

"We cannot have mafia or traffickers or terrorists using better technology than our police," Frattini said at the most recent announcements of new measures.

As well as creating new databases, the commission is proposing new uses for existing ones. It wants, for example, to use the passenger name record database of information on airline travelers to help it to predict who is likely to commit crimes.

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
French 'terror law' declares WAR on the INTERNET itself, say digi-rights folks
Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité: Two out of three ain't bad
SCREW YOU, EU: BBC rolls out Right To Remember as Google deletes links
Not even Google can withstand the power of Auntie
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.