Eurodac: the EDPS’s latest Opinions

Jeremy Phillips

Yesterday saw the publication online, on the website of the Official Journal of the European Union, of the following title:

The Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the amended proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the establishment of ‘Eurodac’ for the comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of Regulation (EC) No (…/…) (establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person), and on the proposal for a Council Decision on requesting comparisons with Eurodac data by Member States’ law enforcement authorities and Europol for law enforcement purposes.

Just to remind readers, Eurodac is a contraction of the words “European Dactyloscopy”. the EU’s database of fingerprints taken from asylum-seekers and irregular border-crossers. While such persons may be entirely sincere and genuine in their intentions, the temptation — and indeed the efficacy — of cross-checking them against terrorist records instantly raises data protection issues at the highest levels.

At paragraphs 51 to 57 the EDPS casts serious doubt as to the legitimacy of the proposed Regulation and Decision. At para 53 the Opinion makes the overall policy position clear:
“Measures to combat terrorist offences and other serious offences can be a legitimate ground to allow processing of personal data, provided that the necessity of the intrusion is supported by clear and undeniable elements, and the proportionality of the processing is demonstrated. This is all the more required since the proposals concern a vulnerable group in need of higher protection because they flee from persecution. Their precarious position has to be taken into account in the assessment of the necessity and proportionality of the proposed action”.

You can read the Opinion in full here.

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