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.
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.
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.
- AG Nachhaltige Digitalisierung
- Abolish Frontex
- Access Now
- Africa Solidarity Centre Ireland
- AlgoRace/University of Córdoba
- Asociación Por Ti Mujer
- Asociación Rumiñahui
- Association for Legal Intervention (Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej)
- Bits of Freedom
- Bürgerrechte & Polizei/CILIP
- CNVOS Slovenia
- Center for AI and Digital Policy (CAIDP)
- Center for Information Technology and Development
- Centre for Muslims’ Rights in Denmark – CEDA
- Centre for Peace Studies
- Civil Liberties Union for Europe
- Coalizione Italiana per le Libertà e i Diritti civili (CILD)
- Danes je nov dan, Inštitut za druga vprašanja
- Derechos Digitales
- Digitale Gesellschaft
- Društvo Parada ponosa (Ljubljana Pride Association)
- European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN)
- Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice
- Equipo Decenio Afrodescendiente- España
- EuroMed Rights
- European Civic Forum
- European Digital Rights (EDRi)
- European Movement Italy
- European Network Against Racism (ENAR)
- European Sex Workers Rights Alliance (ESWA)
- Fundación CIVES
- Fundacja Centrum Badań Migracyjnych
- Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)
- Greek Forum of Migrants
- Greek Forum of Refugees
- Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
- Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights
- Homo Digitalis
- Homo Faber Association
- I Have Rights
- IDAY Liberia Coalition Inc.
- Initiative Center to Support Social Action “Ednannia”
- Institucion De Asuntos Culturales De España
- Institute Circle
- Institute Circle
- International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
- International Women* Space
- Irídia – Centre per la defensa dels drets humans
- IT-Pol Denmark
- Ivorian Community of Greece
- KD Gmajna
- KOK German NGO Network against trafficking in Human Beings
- Kif Kif vzw
- LDH – Ligue des droits de l’Homme France
- La Strada International
- Lafede.cat – Organitzacions per a la Justícia Global
- Legal Centre Lesvos
- Ligue algérienne pour la défense des droits de l’homme
- Ligue des droits humains (Belgium)
- Maison du Peuple d’Europe
- Mobile Info Team
- National Federation of Polish NGOs (OFOP)
- New Europeans International
- Northern Lights Aid
- Open Knowledge Foundation Germany
- PIC – Legal Center for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment
- Peace Institute
- Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM)
- Polish Migration Forum Foundation (Fundacja Polskie Forum Migracyjne)
- Polish Women’s Strike
- Privacy International
- Privacy Network
- Prostitution Information Center
- Quaker Council for European Affairs
- Queen Mary University of London
- RED AMINVI
- Racism and Technology Center
- Red Umbrella Sweden
- Refugee Law Lab, York University
- Refugee Legal Support (RLS)
- Revibra Europe
- SOLIDAR & SOLIDAR Foundation
- Samos Volunteers
- Sans-Papiers Anlaufstelle Zürich SPAZ
- Sea-Watch e.V.
- Siempre vzw/asbl
- Stichting LOS
- Stop Wapenhandel
- Stowarzyszenie Port, Przestrzeń otwarta
- The Border Violence Monitoring Network
- Waterford Integration Services
- Yoga and Sport with Refugees
- Zavod za kulturo raznolikosti Open