EC Tightens Database Ties to Fight Terrorism

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-11-28 Print this article Print

The European Commission adopts measures that will help fight terrorism and serious crime by opening up development of, and access to, common databases.

The European Commission last week adopted measures that will help fight terrorism and serious crime by opening up development of, and access to, common databases. The databases in question are the VIS (Visa Information System), the SIS (Schengen Information System) and EURODAC (a database containing fingerprints of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants). One of the adopted proposals grants access to the VIS database to both member states responsible for internal security as well as to Europol as they seek to prevent, detect and investigate terrorist offenses and other serious crimes.
EC Vice President Franco Frattini, commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, said in a statement that keeping up to date is essential when it comes to fending off post-Sept. 11 terrorist attacks such as those in Madrid and London.
"It is essential in the fight against terrorism and organized crime for the relevant services of the Member States and relevant bodies of the European Union, such as Europol, to have the fullest and most up-to-date information if they are to perform their tasks properly and effectively," Frattini said. However, he added, access to that information cannot include trampling on the "fundamental rights" of individuals. Click here to read more about how the London terrorist attack was documented in online photos. In order to ensure both the free movement of individuals as well as a high level of security, the EC has given top priority to developing the VIS database as a system to exchange visa data between Member States. The adopted proposal stipulates that authorities responsible for internal security in Member States should have access to VIS in the course of their duties, as long as theyre subject to strict compliance with rules governing protection of personal data. The EC is also considering initiatives such as establishing a system to monitor entry and exit, as well as a system to make it easier for frequent travelers to cross external borders. One option is the creation of a data bank of fingerprints, aka the European criminal AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System). Such a system is distinct from EURODAC, a database that has kept track of the fingerprints of anyone over the age of 14 who applies for asylum in the EU—except for Denmark, for now—and in Norway and Iceland since January 2003. Denmark and Switzerland have recently signed agreements to make EURODAC applicable within their borders as well. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.
Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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