Statewatch article: RefNo# 28086
EU: The surveillance of travel where everyone is a suspect
Statewatch Bulletin; vol 18 no 1 January-March 2008
- "all travellers are... considered a priori as potential law breakers"

The Commission's "border package", announced in February, comes on top of EU biometric passports and ID cards (fingerprints) currently being implemented, biometric resident third country national permits (with optional e-gov "chips"), the Visa Information System (VIS, collecting and storing the fingerprints of all visitors) and a planned EU-PNR (passenger name record) database system.

The "package" covers an "entry-exit" system for visitors in and out of the Schengen area; an "automated border crossing system" for bona fide travellers and EU citizens; an "Electronic System of Travel Authorisation" (ESTA, like the USA is to bring in) requiring prior "authorisation to travel", a "European Border Surveillance System" (EUSOR) and the "Integrated European Border Management Strategy".

All in all, to quote the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) we have:

far reaching proposals implying the surveillance of the movements of individuals follow[ing] each other at an amazing pace

The "sheer number" of proposals coming out in a "seemingly piecemeal way" make it extremely difficult for parliaments and civil society to "contribute meaningfully", the EDPS says.

This is compounded by a failure to explain why, for example, the 2004 EC Directive on the collection of API (Advance Passenger Information) has not been implemented across the EU - even though the deadline was September 2006 (API data is that contained in EU passports). Surely an evaluation of this system in operation is required before extending data collection to the same 19 categories (or rather the 34 categories collapsed into 19) being demanded by the USA.

The figures cited to introduce an "entry-exit system" for visitors are based on "estimates" or "samples" which are open to question. This comes with the admission that at least 50% of "overstayers" - collapsed into a category of "illegals" - are those who have overstayed their time limit, including visa waiver visitors from countries like the USA.

The "European Border Surveillance System" (EUSOR) to "detect, identify, track and intercept" those attempting to enter the EU "illegally" (together with FRONTEX operations in the Mediterranean) runs contrary to the EU’s obligation to respect the rights of people seeking sanctuary under international obligations for the protection of refugees. EUSOR plans include sending out surveillance “drones” to order boats to turn back.

The “package” comes with the admission, in the “Integrated European Border Management Strategy” Impact Assessment that the use of EU databases like the Schengen Information System (SIS) in tackling terrorism are limited as the "perpetrators" have mainly been EU citizens or living in the EU with official permits:

None of the policy options contribute markedly to reducing terrorism or serious crime...In view of the latest terrorist acts in the area of the EU, it can be noted that the perpetrators have mainly been EU citizens or foreigners residing and living in the Member States with official permits.

Usually there has been no information about these people or about their terrorist connections in the registers, for example in the SIS or national databases.


And as the European Data Protection Supervisor put it, there is an “underlying assumption” in the proposals that:

all travellers are put under surveillance and are considered a priori as potential law breakers.

On top of this the “package” proposes - for visitors and EU citizens - "Automated Border Control" processing - which is labour-saving as no people are involved:

Automated Border Control processes normally consist of the following: Fingerprint matching would be used in conjunction with an automated gate and kiosk.

The traveller enters the automated gate area, possibly by presenting their passport in order to open a door that closes behind th

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