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Eurodac: over four million sets of fingerprints now held
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The EU Agency for Large-Scale IT Systems recently published the annual report on the use of Eurodac, the EU database that holds the fingerprints of asylum-seekers in order to enforce the Dublin Regulation on responsibility for asylum applications. The number of fingerprint sets stored in the system has increased massively, by some 51%, growing from over 2.7 million at the end of 2014 to almost 4.1 million at the end of 2015.

See: eu-LISA, Annual report on the 2015 activities of the central system of Eurodac, including its technical functioning and security pursuant to Article 40(1) of Regulation (EU) No 603/2013 (contained in Council document 6754/17, 2 March 2017, pdf)

The report notes:

"At the end of the reporting period, on 31 December 2015, there were 4,076,218 sets of fingerprints stored in the Eurodac database, category 1 [fingerprints of an applicant for international protection, aged 14 or older, who lodges an application in a Member State] and category 2 [fingerprints of a third country national or stateless person, aged 14 or older, apprehended when irregularly crossing the external border of a Member State] datasets. Compared to the previous reporting period, when there were over 2.7 million datasets stored, there was an increase of 51%. Compared to the end of 2013, the fingerprint sets stored increased by 71%.

In the whole of 2015, the Eurodac central system processed a total of 1,915,838 transactions. This represents an increase of over 153% compared to the traffic observed in the previous reporting period when the processed transactions were 756,368. Over a period of two years, the volume of processed transactions increased almost four times, precisely by 277% (in 2013, the total number of processed transactions was 508,565).

The unprecedented increase observed in 2015, in stored fingerprint sets and in the total number of processed transactions respectively, clearly reflects the migration crisis. In 2015 Eurodac registered the biggest ever increase in usage, over a period of 12 months, since its entry into operations back in 2003."

For asylum applicants:

"Very similar to the previous reporting period, the main contributor in terms of insertions for category 1 remains Germany that was responsible for 39% (461,627 transactions) of the total transactions on category 1 in 2015, followed by Sweden with 11% (127,255) and Hungary with 10% (116,313)."

And for irregular migrants apprehended having crossed a Member State's external border:

"Reflecting the migration crisis, transactions in category 2 witnessed a massive increase of almost 300% in 2015 compared to 2014, increasing to 422,825 transactions (from 106,980 in the previous year). Expectedly the main contributors for this type of data were Greece with almost 54% of all transactions (with 228,159 transactions) performed in 2015 for category 2, followed by Hungary with almost 29% (121,482 transactions) and Italy with over 13.5% (57,342 transactions)."

Part-way though 2015 it became possible for law enorcement authorities to search Eurodac data under certain conditions:

"From 20 July until 31 December 2015, In total 95 category 4 searches were performed by five Member States. 75% of these searches were performed by Austria (71 searches), followed by Germany with 12% (11 searches) and Finland with 6% (6 searches)."

The statistics also highlight how people have moved through the EU in search of refuge:

"Foreign hits give an Indication of the secondary movements of International protection seekers as they show cases when a person who has applied In a Member State lodges a new application in another Member State. Two Member States generated together more than 50% of the total foreign hits: Germany generated over 43% (compared to 41% In 2014) and Sweden almost 9% (with 10% In 2014). Germany received a high number of International protection seekers who had previously lodged an application In Hungary (51,278) and In Italy (13,102). Sweden received a high number of foreign hits from International protection seekers who previously lodged an application In Germany (7,261) and In Hungary (5,102)."

The report also covers the rejection rate for fingerprints which is decreasing but still sits at above 5%:

"A transaction may be rejected due to a data validation Issue, fingerprint errors or Insufficient data quality. In 2015, the transaction rejection rate for all Member States was 5.4%, having registered 122,652 transactlons with errors. This represents an Improvement comparedtothe last two years, when the transaction rejection rate was 10.2% for both years."

In the context of attempts to make fingerprinting for Eurodac mandatory, if necessary by detention or physical force, what might be the consequences for to asylum-seekers whose fingerprints are rejected through no fault of their own?

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