The interoperability of Justice and Home Affairs databases

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Series Details Volume 20, Number 1
Publication Date March 2018
ISSN 1756-851X
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a) The Commission’s proposal for interoperable centralised EU databases is justified on the threat posed to internal security by migration and terrorism. This conflation of threats based on fear of the “other” is a classic case of state racism.
b) Building on the above the message is that as the plans only affect 218 million non-EU citizens, so there is no reason for EU citizens to be concerned as it will not affect them. The assumption that EU citizens are not concerned with the rights and freedoms of non-EU citizens is insulting.
c) Furthermore, the above assertion is untrue. The present plans would mainly affect non-EU citizens but once the centralised EU database is set up it will be extended to include Prüm (vehicle registration, DNA and fingerprint data), ECRIS (criminal records) and the EU Passenger Name Record system (PNR, which will cover internal flights as well as those in and out of the EU) – affecting millions and millions of EU citizens. It is yet another step in EU state-building (See “The Shape of Things to Come “, Chapter 6 & 9).
d) The plan is to include all existing, planned and future Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) databases to be run by eu-Lisa.
e) The European Data Protection Supervisor and the Meijers Committee of legal experts are not impressed by the official view that the harmonisation of access across all Justice and Home Affairs database does not present a problem in terms of fundamental rights.
f) The notion that these plans are simply bringing together existing data and biometrics, and so there is nothing to be afraid of is untrue. If there has been one clear lesson since 11 September 2001 it is that function creep is the name of the game.

From the late 1970s onwards each new stage of the technological revolution has been justified on the grounds that there is nothing new, it is just making life easier for law enforcement and border control agencies to get access to the information they need to do their job more efficiently. Whereas the reality is that at each stage databases become ever more intrusive as security demands cumulatively diminish freedoms and rights.

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