By Homo Digitalis

On 5 November 2018, EDRi observer Homo Digitalis filed a petition to the Greek Parliament about the pilot implementation of the iBorderCtrl project on the Greek border. The Minister in charge will have 25 days to reply to it.

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The iBorderCtrl (Intelligent Portable Control System) is a project that claims to enable faster and more thorough border control for third country nationals crossing the land borders of EU Member States. It includes software and hardware technologies ranging from portable readers and scanners related to biometric verification, automated deception detection, document authentication, and risk assessment. The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (EU contribution: 4 501 877 euro, Project N°: 700626).

As a pilot project implemented on the Hungarian, Greek, and Latvian borders, iBorderCtrl is not an authorised law enforcement system and it works on a voluntary basis. It consists of a two-stage procedure. The first stage is a pre-screening step in which travelers upload pictures of their passport, visa and proof of funds to an online platform, and they get interviewed by a computer-animated border guard via a webcam. Based on the micro-gestures of the travelers, the system claims to be able to detect deception and figure out whether or not the interviewees are lying. The second stage takes place at the actual border. There, travelers who have been flagged as low risk during the pre-screening stage go through a short re-evaluation of their information, while individuals categorised as higher-risk undergo a more detailed check.

Homo Digitalis is alarmed about the introduction of such artificial intelligence (AI) systems to different aspects of our lives, even on a voluntary basis. In the European Union, people enjoy a high level of human rights protection based on the provisions of the EU Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. It is unlikely that an AI system could reliably and without errors detect deception based on face expressions. In addition, if the technical reports and the legal/ethical evaluations that accompany this system are kept confidential, there is even more reason for doubt.

The petition filed by Homo Digitalis underlines the lack of transparency in the implementation of the technology and expresses mistrust regarding the true capabilities of the AI system used in the context of the iBorderCtrl project. In addition, the petition stresses out that there is a high risk of discrimination against natural persons on the basis of special categories of personal data. Therefore, the petition demands the Minister in change to state whether a Data Protection Impact Assessment and a consultation with the Greek Data Protection Authority (DPA) took place prior to the implementation of this pilot system to the Greek borders. It also requests clarification on why the technical reports and the legal and ethical evaluations accompanying the project are being kept confidential, even though the iBorderCtrl is not an authorised law enforcement system.

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iBorderCtrl: a success story! (29.10.2018)

Homo Digitalis files a petition to the Hellenic Parliament about the pilot implementation of the iBorderCtrl system to the Greek borders (only in Greek, 05.11.2018)

Homo Digitalis

(Contribution by Eleftherios Chelioudakis, EDRi observer Homo Digitalis, Greece)