The European Parliament voted last week to interconnect a series of border-control, migration, and law enforcement systems into a gigantic, biometrics-tracking, searchable database of EU and non-EU citizens.
This new database will be known as the Common Identity Repository (CIR) and is set to unify records on over 350 million people.
Per its design, CIR will aggregate both identity records (names, dates of birth, passport numbers, and other identification details) and biometrics (fingerprints and facial scans), and make its data available to all border and law enforcement authorities.
Its primary role will be to simplify the jobs of EU border and law enforcement officers who will be able to search a unified system much faster, rather than search through separate databases individually.
“The systems covered by the new rules would include the Schengen Information System, Eurodac, the Visa Information System (VIS) and three new systems: the European Criminal Records System for Third Country Nationals (ECRIS-TCN), the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS),” EU officials said last week.
CIR passed through the European Parliament last Monday, April 15, in two separate votes. The CIR rules for borders and visa checks were adopted by 511 to 123, and nine abstentions, while the CIR legislation for police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration were approved 510 to 130, and nine abstentions.
The European Parliament and the European Council promised “proper safeguards” to protect people’s right to privacy and regulate officers’ access to data.
EU to run one of the world’s biggest biometrics databases
Ever since plans to create this shared biometrics database have been made public last year, privacy advocates have criticized the EU, calling CIR’s creation as the “point of no return” in creating “a Big Brother centralized EU state database.”
Once up and running, CIR will become one of the biggest people-tracking databases in the world, right behind the systems used by the Chinese government and India’s Aadhar system.
The database’s existence can be easily justified by the necessity to give law enforcement better tools for tracking migrants and criminals; however, there’s always the fear that the system will slowly be expanded to include and track people that are not the subject of any criminal investigations, such as tourist traveling across the EU space.