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EC needs new agency for three-headed security database

But don't give it to Interpol, warns data supervisor

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The European Data Protection Supervisor has called for a new agency to be set up to oversee the massive three-horned citizen watching database proposed by Brussels earlier this year.

The Commission in June proposed an agency - "responsible for the long-term operational management of the second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), Visa Information System (VIS) and EURODAC.

Other large scale systems could be added "to gradually build up expertise with a view to becoming a centre of excellence for IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice". It's fair to say fewer people would have been surprised at the proposal for the new agency than at the fact the EU was proposing such an all-encompassing database.

In his report published this week, the EUDPS Peter Hustinx reviews the proposals for running this super network, including the Commission's preferred options of a new agency and handing operation control to Frontex and/or Europol.

The involvement of Frontex and Europol raises issues of function creep, he says.

He proposes that it should be a really independent agency: "an independent entity which does not not have its own interest as user of the database". This would also have the benefit of diminishing the risk of data misuse, he thinks.

At the same time, says Hustinx, "The creation of an Agency for such large-scale databases must be based on legislation which is unambiguous about the competences and the scope of activities of the Agency. Such clarity would prevent any future misunderstanding about the conduct of the agency and avoid the risk of function creep. As currently drafted, the proposals do not meet those standards."

Hustinx asks that the Commission clarify the scope of the agency, and whether it will restrict itself to border checks, asylum and immigration, or whether it should cover all "large scale IT systems developed in the area of freedom, security and justice."

The Commission should also clarify its "notion of large-scale IT systems within this framework", and make clear whether it is restricted to systems with a centralised database for which the Commission of the agency is responsible.

Hustinx warned that the Commission should be cautious about how many large scale IT systems it brings under the new agency. Presumably, he hopes it should get its act together before the Commission completely takes over our digital lives. ®

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