31 organisations protecting the rights of people on the move, children and digital rights have addressed an open letter to the members of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee urging them to radically change the course of the EURODAC reform – the European Union (EU) database storing asylum seekers’ and migrants’ personal data – in order to respect fundamental rights and international law.

The signatories warn against transforming the database into a powerful tool for mass surveillance. The reform would exacerbate the wider EU strategy on asylum and migration which would prevent arrivals, track movements, and speed up return procedures regardless of the protection needs and regardless of the consequences.

Among others, signatories are concerned about taking biometric data of children when child protection is not the purpose. According to the proposals, anyone above the age of six has to comply and allow their biometric data to be taken. To put this into perspective, children younger than 16 are not even able consent to have their personal data processed under the GDPR, again showing the different treatment to which migrant children are subjected.

People on the move deserve the same level of protection as anyone else and the EU should
not take advantage of their vulnerable situation to subject them to mass surveillance and
undignified treatment. Reads the letter

Therefore, the undersigned organisations call for:

  • a temporary delay to the legislative process to give due time for significant consideration of the fundamental rights implications of the EURODAC reform;
  • the completion and publication of an impact assessment;
  •  meaningful consultation with civil society working on the fundamental rights of migrants, children, data protection and digital rights;
Read the full letter

Background
The EURODAC database was introduced in 2003 alongside the Dublin Regulation to support the application of its allocation mechanism by identifying which Member State was responsible for examining a person’s asylum claim. After a proposed revision in 2016, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament reached a political agreement in 2018 during the secret negotiations (called trilogues) to transform the database into a multi-purpose instrument serving EU policies on asylum, resettlement and irregular migration.

However, the compromise text was never formally adopted because of a political deadlock on the other migration and asylum files that formed the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). In 2020, the European Commission tried to find a way out by releasing a new series of legislative proposals called “a New Pact on Migration and Asylum”. As part of this package, the proposal to reform EURODAC bases itself on the 2018 political agreement.