Updates on Visa Information System Regulation

By EDRi · May 21, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

An updated version of the Regulation on the Visa Information System (VIS)
published by Statewatch reveals that only random checks might be carried
out, if there are too many people waiting.

As already presented in EDRi-gram, the legislative package on the Visa
Information System that included the VIS Regulation has been adopted by the
European Parliament. The system will allow fingerprinting and checking
security of all visitors to EU that apply for a visa in their home country.
All the details, including fingerprints are held on the central VIS database
so that on entry to and exit from the EU identity checks can be carried out.
The VIS Regulation will allow consulates and other competent authorities to
start using the system when processing visa applications and to check visas.

The European Data Protection Supervisor has insisted on the importance of
data protection in these situation: “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”.

After the last meeting of the Working Party on Frontiers /Mixed Committee,
the new proposal from the Council Presidency says that if there are too
many people to be checked and “all resources have been exhausted” then only
random checks will be carried out. This implies amending article 7(3) which
is making the verification of the visa holder identity and the authenticity
of the visa compulsory, by consulting the Visa Information System (VIS):

“By way of derogation, where traffic of such intensity arises that the
waiting time at the border crossing point becomes excessive and all
resources have been exhausted as regards staff, facilities and organisation
and where, on the basis of an assessment of the risk related to internal
security and illegal immigration, it is established that the consultation in
the Visa Information System need not be systematic, such consultation may be
carried out on a random basis for as long as these conditions are met.”

Another issue with the VIS database is the possible access of the US
authorities to its content. The idea was rejected in a debate at the
European Parliament where the MEP Sarah Ludford, rapporteur on the EU Visa
Information System, asked for clear assurances that the US would not acquire
access to the databases:
“At a time of warnings about the frightening spread of the Mafia as well as
terrorist conspiracies, why is the EU going down this blind alley of mass
surveillance of the 99.9 percent of the public which is innocent, when the
real need is to target the 0.1 percent of travelers who might be dangerous
or criminal through intelligence- led policing and effective cross-border
cooperation between law enforcement agencies?”

Draft Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of amending
Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 as regards the use of the Visa Information
System (VIS) under the Schengen Borders Code (25.04.2008)

An EU push for US visa waivers to protect privacy (28.04.2008)

EDRi-gram: European Visa Information System accepted by the EU bodies

EDRi-gram: EU Visa Database under scrutiny of the European Data Protection