What we’re calling for:
- Stop the surveillance of people on the move
- Stop spying on migrants. Stop collecting and sharing biometric and other data
- Abolish the migration databases, delete all collected data and cancel the project to make them interoperable
- Stop the use of equipment to surveil migrants and gather data. Prohibit the introduction of new technologies
- End all contracts with private companies in the field of surveillance, collecting and sharing data. Stop Frontex participation in European Association for Biometrics (EAB) and other lobby networks
- Abolish the eu-Lisa agency
- Abolish the EUROSUR network
- Stop air surveillance unless for the sole purpose of rescue
- Stop cooperation with third countries on collecting and sharing data about migrants or for migration control reasons
- Discharge the Frontex-Europol liaison officers
- Abolish all EU member states’ border security and border police authorities
The European Union strives to gather as much data as (legally) possible from (possible) migrants, before, at, and after crossing the EU’s external borders. For this it has set up several (biometric) databases, including Eurodac, VIS (Visa Information System), SIS II (Schengen Information System), EES (Entry/Exit Scheme) and ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), on which it has spent over €1 billion up to 2020. The EU is currently working on making these databases interoperable, to come to a European search portal and a shared biometric matching service.
These systems and databases are aimed at controlling, monitoring and surveilling people’s movements. They are fundamental parts of border and migration management policies, facilitating the identifying, stopping and expulsion of migrants. The same technologies are also used for example to allow registered ‘legal’ travellers to pass border controls more quickly. As such they contribute to a system of border apartheid, where some can easily pass while others are immediately picked out for stringent controls following generalised threat assessments based on biometrics and features, not in the least skin color.
These systems are also a forerunner of the use of security technology to control society at large, with migrants essentially functioning as guinea pigs for measures later to be introduced on a wider scale. The increasing use of cameras, ever more refined biometrics registration, motion trackers, emotion recognition software and other artificial intelligence (AI) applications so on builds a fine-meshed system of control, risk identification and discipline.
EUROSUR, the EU border surveillance ‘system of systems’, provides an exchange of real time images and data between EU member states through a network of National Coordination Centers, coordinated by Frontex, to create a ‘situational picture’ of the EU external borders and beyond, with the aim of intercepting migrants. Increasingly, countries neighbouring the EU (in particular those in North Africa) are asked to also provide information to EUROSUR.
Frontex runs the EUROSUR network and the ETIAS Central Unit. Most other databases are run by a separate EU agency, eu-LISA (European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice), with which Frontex closely cooperates. They have awarded large contracts to biometrics companies, including Sopra Steria, Accenture and Idemia. Most EUROSUR contracts have gone to GMV. The lobby organisation European Association for Biometrics (EAB) brings together representatives from industry, governments and academia. Several high-ranking Frontex officers are members of its board and its Advisory Council.
Research and resources
- Technological Testing Grounds: report by EDRi, based on over 40 conversations with people on the move, showing that much of the innovation in migration management technologies occurs without adequate governance mechanisms and does not account for the very real impacts on people’s rights and lives.
- The UK’s Privatised Migration Surveillance Regime: a report by Privacy International on how UK authorities track and monitor immigrants and the companies which profit.
- Borderline, The EU’s New Border Surveillance Initiatives: Assessing the Costs and Fundamental Rights Implicationsof EUROSUR and the “Smart Borders” Proposals
Full report in English
- Stranger than fiction: How ‘pre-crime’ approaches to “Countering Violent Extremism” institutionalise islamophobia by TNI
Full report in English
La fiction dépasse la réalité – Francais
De fictie voorbij – Nederlands