Saturday

27th Aug 2016

EU wants to give police greater digital access

  • Police want access to an EU database that contains the biometric data of asylum seekers (Photo: EU's attempts)

The European Commission is set to propose expanding police access to sensitive digital data, including details of financial transactions made inside the EU and biometric data of asylum seekers.

The idea is laid out in an internal document, seen by this website, from EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The paper, dated 4 March 2016, says the commission is mulling proposals to broaden the Terrorist Financing Tracking Program (TFTP), also known as the Swift agreement.

Under the agreement, the US treasury department and EU law enforcement agencies have access to data on Europeans' financial transactions in a bid to identify terrorist financing.

But it excludes transactions made through the so-called Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), a widespread system that allows people, for instance, to use their debit card anywhere in the euro area.

"This implies, in particular, an information gap to identify contextual information on foreign terrorist fighters and their associates within SEPA countries, thus decreasing opportunities to detect and disrupt terrorist (support) networks, including the related financing activities," notes the paper.

The internal document, titled State of Play on the Implementation of the Statement of the members of the European Council of 12 February 2015, suggests that the commission might seek to include SEPA transactions under the Swift agreement.

The document also criticises the way information from various EU-level databases is shared and used among national security agencies.

For example, it argues that Europol should be given greater access to the EU-wide fingerprint database Eurodac "to prevent, detect, and investigate serious crimes and terrorist offences".

Europol also wants to extend its access to the Schengen Information System, which allows European law enforcement agencies to create and share alerts.

The police agency can already carry out manual checks in the system, but is unable to enter alerts and has no access to data on missing persons or refusals of entry or stay in a country.

Europol chief Rob Wainwright earlier this year said more EU states are now participating in data sharing with the agency. Before the 13 November terror attacks in Paris, roughly half of EU states had signed up to any formal exchange of information with Europol. Most are now onboard.

The internal paper also contradicts an often-cited estimate that 5,000 people in Europe fought in Syria alongside militant jihadist groups, saying that data from Europol suggests the verified figure is 2,786.

"This despite well-founded estimates that around 5,000 EU citizens have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join Daesh and other extremist groups," notes the paper, using an alternative term for the Islamic State militant group.

EU interior ministers in Brussels are meeting to discuss how to improve the data sharing, with the UK and France pressing other EU states to be more proactive on intelligence sharing.

"On terrorism we've seen and we've made great strides in sharing information among European countries but there is more to do," UK home secretary Theresa May told reporters in Brussels on Thursday (10 March).

News in Brief

  1. Hungary plans to reinforce border fence against migrants
  2. France's highest court suspends burkini ban
  3. Greeks paid €1bn more in taxes in June
  4. Greek minister denounces EU letter on former statistics chief
  5. Turks seeking asylum in Greece may cause diplomatic row
  6. Merkel becomes digital resident of Estonia
  7. Report: VW will compensate US dealers with €1bln
  8. EU mulls making Google pay news media for content

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBrussels - home of beer, fries, chocolate and Google’s Public Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  2. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students from 50 countries to China for Much-Needed ICT Training
  3. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  4. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  5. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  6. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  7. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  8. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  9. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  10. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  11. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  12. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey