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European Union to create central biometrics database

New rules will see the introduction of a repository of personal data from hundreds of millions of citizens to support law enforcement across member states

The European Parliament has agreed to build a single biometric database that will weave various border control, security and migration systems across the European Union (EU).

Called the Common Identity Repository, the system will provide law enforcement agencies with facial recognition data and fingerprints, as well as personal information, such as passport numbers and birth dates of more than 350 million citizens.

European Parliament and Council negotiators agreed on the new rules in February. After formal approval of the rules by the Council, EU member states will have two years to comply.

Three systems will be introduced under the new rules – the European Criminal Records System for Third Country Nationals, the Entry/Exit System, and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System.

Eurodac, the EU system for identifying asylum seekers and irregular border-crossers, will be covered by the new regulations, as well as the Schengen Information System and the Visa Information System.

In addition to the shared biometric matching services and the common identity database, the new rules will see the introduction of a portal that will allow simultaneous searches and a multiple identity detector, to determine whether a person is registered under multiple identities in different databases.

The EU says “proper safeguards will be in place” to ensure data protection and appropriate access to information.

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