surveillance tech at the EU borders

Civil society joint statement: Europe’s (digital) borders must fall

Civil society calls for an end to the expansion of EURODAC, the EU database for the registration of asylum-seekers. EURODAC, designed to collect and store migrants’ data, is being transformed into an expansive, violent surveillance tool that will treat people seeking protection as crime suspects This will include children as young as 6 whose fingerprints and facial images will be integrated into the database.

EURODAC is being expanded to enforce the EU’s discriminatory and hostile asylum and migration policies: increasing deportations, detention and a broader climate of racialised criminalisation. The endless expansion of EURODAC must be stopped.

What is EURODAC?

Since its inception in 2003, the EU has repeatedly expanded the scope, size and function of EURODAC.

Created to implement the Dublin system and record the country responsible for processing asylum claims, it originally stored only limited information, mostly fingerprints, on few categories of people: asylum-seekers and people apprehended irregularly crossing the EU’s borders. From the start, this system has been a means to enforce a discriminatory and harmful deportation regime, premised on a false framework of ‘illegality’ in migration.

After a first reform in 2013 allowing police to access the database, the EU continues to detach EURODAC from its asylum framework to re-package it as a system pursuing ‘wider immigration purposes’. The changes were announced in 2020 in the EU Migration Pact, the EU’s so-called ‘fresh start on migration’. Rather than a fresh start, the proposals contain the harshest proposals in the history of the EU’s migration policy: more detention, more violence, and a wider, evolved tool of surveillance in the EURODAC database to track, push back and deport ‘irregular’ migrants.

How is the EURODAC expansion endangering people’s human rights?

  • More people included into the database: Concretely EURODAC would collect a vast swathe of personal data (photographs, copies of travel and identity documents, etc.) on a wider range of people: those resettled, relocated, disembarked following search and rescue operations and arrested at borders or within national territories.
  • Data collection on children: The reform would also lower the threshold for storing data in the system to the age of six, extend the data retention periods and weaken the conditions for law enforcement consultation of the database.
  • Including facial images into the database: The reform also proposes the expansion to include facial images. Comparisons and searches run in the database can be based on facial recognition – a technology notoriously error-prone and unreliable that threatens the essence of dignity, non-discrimination and privacy rights. The database functions as a genuine tool of violence as it authorises the use of coercion against asylum-seekers who refuse to give up their data, such as detention and forced collection. Not only do these changes contradict European data protection standards, they demonstrate how the EU’s institutional racism creates differential standards between migrants and non-migrants.
  • Access by law enforcement: EURODAC’s revamp also facilitates its connection to other existing EU migration and police databases as part of the so-called ‘interoperability’ initiative – the creation of an overarching EU information system designed to increase police identity checks of non-EU nationals, leading to increased racial profiling. These measures also unjustly equate asylum seekers with criminals. Lastly, the production of statistics from EURODAC data and other databases is supposed to inform future policymaking on migration movement trends. In reality, it is expected that they will facilitate illegal pushbacks and overpolicing of humanitarian assistance.

End the expansion of EURODAC

The EURODAC reform is a gross violation of the right to seek international protection, a chilling conflation of migration and criminality and an out-of-control surveillance instrument. The far-right is already anticipating the next step, calling for the collection of DNA.

The EURODAC reform is one of many examples of the digitalisation of Fortress Europe. It is inconsistent with fundamental rights and will undermine frameworks of protection and rights of people on the move.

We demand:

1. That the EU institutions immediately reject the expansion of EURODAC.

2. For legislators to prevent further violence and ensure protection at and within borders when rethinking the EURODAC system.

3. For legislators and EU Member States to establish safe and regular pathways for migrants and protective reception conditions.


  1. AG Nachhaltige Digitalisierung
  2. Abolish Frontex
  3. Access Now
  4. Africa Solidarity Centre Ireland
  5. AlgoRace/University of Córdoba
  6. AlgorithmWatch
  7. Àltera
  8. Asociación Por Ti Mujer
  9. Asociación Rumiñahui
  10. Association for Legal Intervention (Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej)
  11. AsyLex
  12. Bits of Freedom
  13. Blindspots
  14. Bürgerrechte & Polizei/CILIP
  15. CNCD-11.11.11
  16. CNVOS Slovenia
  17. Center for AI and Digital Policy (CAIDP)
  18. Center for Information Technology and Development
  19. Centre for Muslims’ Rights in Denmark – CEDA
  20. Centre for Peace Studies
  21. Civil Liberties Union for Europe
  22. Coalizione Italiana per le Libertà e i Diritti civili (CILD)
  23. D64
  24. Danes je nov dan, Inštitut za druga vprašanja
  25. Derechos Digitales
  26. Digitalcourage
  27. Digitale Gesellschaft
  28. Društvo Parada ponosa (Ljubljana Pride Association)
  29. European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN)
  30. Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice
  31. Equipo Decenio Afrodescendiente- España
  33. EuroMed Rights
  34. European Civic Forum
  35. European Digital Rights (EDRi)
  36. European Movement Italy
  37. European Network Against Racism (ENAR)
  38. European Sex Workers Rights Alliance (ESWA)
  39. Fundación CIVES
  40. Fundacja Centrum Badań Migracyjnych
  41. Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)
  42. Greek Forum of Migrants
  43. Greek Forum of Refugees
  44. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
  45. Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights
  46. Homo Digitalis
  47. Homo Faber Association
  48. I Have Rights
  49. IDAY Liberia Coalition Inc.
  50. Infokolpa
  51. info.nodes
  52. Initiative Center to Support Social Action “Ednannia”
  53. Institucion De Asuntos Culturales De España
  54. Institute Circle
  55. Institute Circle
  56. International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
  57. International Women* Space
  58. Irídia – Centre per la defensa dels drets humans
  59. IT-Pol Denmark
  60. Ivorian Community of Greece
  61. KD Gmajna
  62. KOK German NGO Network against trafficking in Human Beings
  63. Kif Kif vzw
  64. LDH – Ligue des droits de l’Homme France
  65. La Strada International
  66. – Organitzacions per a la Justícia Global
  67. Legal Centre Lesvos
  68. Ligue algérienne pour la défense des droits de l’homme
  69. Ligue des droits humains (Belgium)
  70. Maison du Peuple d’Europe
  71. Mobile Info Team
  72. Naga
  73. National Federation of Polish NGOs (OFOP)
  74. New Europeans International
  75. Northern Lights Aid
  76. Novact
  77. Novact
  78. Open Knowledge Foundation Germany
  79. PIC – Legal Center for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment
  80. Peace Institute
  81. Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM)
  82. Polish Migration Forum Foundation (Fundacja Polskie Forum Migracyjne)
  83. Polish Women’s Strike
  84. Politiscope
  85. Privacy International
  86. Privacy Network
  87. Prostitution Information Center
  88. Quaker Council for European Affairs
  89. Queen Mary University of London
  91. Racism and Technology Center
  92. Red Umbrella Sweden
  93. Refugee Law Lab, York University
  94. Refugee Legal Support (RLS)
  95. Revibra Europe
  96. SOLIDAR & SOLIDAR Foundation
  97. Samos Volunteers
  98. Sans-Papiers Anlaufstelle Zürich SPAZ
  99. Sea-Watch e.V.
  100. Siempre vzw/asbl
  101. Statewatch
  102. Stichting LOS
  103. Stop Wapenhandel
  104. Stowarzyszenie Port, Przestrzeń otwarta
  105. Taraaz
  106. The Border Violence Monitoring Network
  107. Waterford Integration Services
  108. Yoga and Sport with Refugees
  109. Zavod za kulturo raznolikosti Open