EU Visa Database under scrutiny of the European Data Protection
In a public opinion from 20 January 2006, Mr. Peter Hustinx, the
European Data Protection Supervisor, was very critical about the wide
access possibilities the European Commission wanted to give to the new
Visa Information System. The Commission published its “Proposal for
a Council Decision concerning access for consultation of the Visa
Information System (VIS)” on 24 November 2005.
VIS will be a central database of all visa applications for most EU
countries. The database will be connected to national systems that can
be accessed by consulates and similar competent authorities within the
Mr. Hustinx thinks the Commission pays considerable attention to data
protection, but he stresses that access must be granted only under specific
circumstances, on a case-by-case basis and with strict safeguards.
In his opinion: “The VIS database will be the biggest cross border one in
Europe. Some 20 million new entries per year, regarding people who apply for
a Schengen visa, are foreseen. It is of utmost importance that data
protection is taken seriously for these, a priori, innocent people”.
The suggested database will also keep biometric data for all applicants.
This would result in 70 million fingerprint data to be stored in the system
for the five-year term set forth in the current VIS Regulation proposal.
Moreover, the EU is considering also introducing biometric data in all ID
systems within European Union. During 2005, UK Presidency promised
to standardize identity card systems across the EU so that they also include
fingerprints and a RFID chip.
Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor on the Proposal for a
Council Decision concerning access for consultation of the Visa Information
System (VIS) (20.01.2006)
EU privacy chief wants tweaks to anti-terror database plan (24.01.2006)
Proposal for a Council Decision concerning access for consultation of the
Visa Information System (VIS) (24.11.2005)
EDRI-gram : EU plans database of visa applicants’ biometrics (12.01.2005)
EU: Biometrics – from visas to passports to ID cards (12.05.2005)