The European Commission has proposed spending millions on futuristic facial recognition technology to keep track of ‘irregular migrants’. They also slammed rules blocking states from accessing existing data on criminal migrants.
The proposals, from the European Union’s (EU) unelected executive arm, are part of a massive expansion of the Eurodac fingerprint database used to identify asylum seekers and irregular border-crossers. The proposed upgrade will cost around €30 million, EurActiv Germany reports.
Eurodac was introduced in 2000 to support the Dublin System, which is now failing as migrants routinely fail to be sent back to the first EU nation they arrived it. The EU is instead seeking to forcibly resettle over a hundred thousand migrants from those countries across member states.
Now, the EU wants to collect more data on migrants and store it for longer – five years instead of 18 months. They hope this will keep migrants on the authorities’ radar, especially underage refugees.
It also proposes that the minimum age of migrants whose biometric data can be collected be lowered from 14, to unaccompanied minors as young as six years old.
In February this year, German authorities admitted they did not know the whereabouts of 130,000 migrants – meaning that more than one in ten of the unvetted new arrivals from the Middle East simply disappeared, somewhere in Europe.
The Commission also slammed current rules restricting the collection of migrant data. Astonishingly, member states cannot check the fingerprints of apprehended migrants who have no residence status and have not yet submitted an application.
The Commission argues that the database should now be used as a centralised tool to collect the biometric data of all non-EU citizens on European soil.
It is not known when the facial recognition software will be rolled out. According to research carried out by netzpolitik.org, the EU does not actually have the software necessary to process digital facial images, and it will be 2020 before it is ready.
Security officials will, however, be allowed to take photographs if the new amendment is passed. Without the automated tech the border guards will simply have to rely on their own judgment when identifying individuals.