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EU ‘Smart Border’ IT project slammed by privacy body

19 Jul 2013
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The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Peter Hustinx, has criticised a European Commission IT project aimed at keeping track of the movements of EU citizens between borders, branding it "costly, unproven and intrusive."

Hustinx said today that Smart Border system, which would see EU citizens providing biometric data including 10 fingerprints, were "disproportionate".

He said: "In a democratic society, the EDPS questions the necessity of the collection and storage of excessive amounts of personal information, particularly when two or four fingerprints are sufficient for verification."

He said it was an unnecessary IT project, considering other systems that are already in place: "The creation of yet another large-scale IT database to store massive amounts of personal information is a disproportionate response to a problem that other recently created systems may be able to help solve."

The biometric information would be used to keep track of the length of time so-called "third-country" residents – people who migrate to European countries from outside the EU – stay in Europe.

Law enforcement authorities would be given access to the data, something which the EDPS said sets an uncomfortable trend. "The general trend to give law enforcement authorities access to the data of individuals, who in principle are not suspected of committing any crime, is a dangerous one," an EDPS statement said.

"The EDPS strongly recommends that the precise added value of such access, compared with access to existing biometric databases, be identified."

The EDPS is an independent authority tasked with protecting the personal data and privacy for EU citizens. The Smart Border concept was created by the European Commission to simplify the immigration process into the EU to assist with short term working permits.

V3 contacted the EC for comment, but has not received a response at the time of publication.

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Michael Passingham

Michael Passingham joined V3 as a reporter in June 2013. Prior to working at V3, Michael spent time at computing magazine PC Pro. Michael covers IT skills, social media, tech startups and also produces V3's video content.

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