Finding the Balance between Security and Human Rights in the EU Border Security Ecosystem



In order to address the ‘complex landscape’ of large-scale information systems which have developed within the fields of migration and security, the European Union adopted two Regulations on Interoperability (Reg (EU) 2019/817 and Reg (EU) 2019/818) on the 20th May 2019. These twin Regulations establish a framework composed of four components: firstly, a European Search Portal (ESP); secondly, a Shared Biometric Matching Service (BMS); thirdly, a Common Identity Repository (CIR); and fourthly, a Multiple-Identity Detector (MID).

Through these components, the EU seeks to close information gaps which exist between the various information systems, enabling the different systems to supplement each other. The EU argues that doing so helps to ensure the correct identification of individuals presenting themselves at an EU border, and assists in achieving a number of aims such as improving the effectiveness of external border checks, preventing illegal immigration and contributing to a high level of security within the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice.

While beneficial from the standpoint of simplifying data exchange, these Regulations raise significant human rights concerns, particularly in relation to privacy and data protection. Through considering this ‘complex landscape’ through a holistic perspective, this article considers whether rather than simplifying how the information within these databases are accessed, the Interoperability Regulations, in fact, further complicates it, by failing to take into account the importance of the respective purposes behind each individual database.

As an ecosystems approach highlights, rather than looking at the interoperability provisions in isolation, greater attention should be paid to the wider context within which these databases have developed. It is suggested that by ignoring this context, these Regulations prioritise the development of new tools for security purposes at the expense of the human rights of migrants.

Author Biography

Lauren E. Elrick, University of Groningen, The Netherlands/"Mihai Viteazul" National Intelligence Academy, Romania

Lauren E. Elrick is a Lecturer in Technology Law at the University of Groningen. She is also dually enrolled as a PhD Candidate within the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, and the Doctoral School of Intelligence and National Security at the "Mihai Viteazul" National Intelligence Academy, Romania.

Her research is conducted as part of the ESSENTIAL (“Evolving Security SciencE through Networked Technologies, Information policy And Law”) Project, the work of which is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN) Grant Agreement No.722482.






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