Fingerprint identification searches now possible in Schengen Information System
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eu-LISA successfully launches SIS II AFIS Phase One (press release issued by eu-LISA, 6 March 2018)
After a little less than two years of intense efforts, the eu-LISA Internal Security Systems Sector successfully launched the first phase of the SIS II AFIS platform. The platform enables the identification of a person from his/her fingerprints alone. The introduction of a biometric search capability in SIS II was achieved by eu-LISA in tight cooperation with ten Member States who showed both interest and willingness to use biometric queries once deployed at the Central System level. Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia will soon be followed by more Member States.
The aim of SIS II AFIS is to allow all the Member States to leverage on a centralized policing-oriented database. As such, it will strengthen the fight against crime within Europe which is a mission we should bear in mind each day. Using the platform to locate those who either lie about their identity or changed it to avoid detection is paramount to Europe's security.
SIS II AFIS Phase One entered into operation on 5 March 2018 at 22:00 CET. The entire project was performed without any deviation from the timescale and in full compatibility with the requests from eu-LISA's Governing Bodies.
"This is an important milestone in the evolution of SIS II. With its new biometric search capabilities the system becomes an even more important platform for law-enforcement cooperation and information exchange. At the same time, this is a great achievement for the Agency as a whole, demonstrating again our agility and ability to deliver towards the needs of eu-LISA's stakeholders." said Krum Garkov, Executive Director of eu-LISA.
Articles 22 (c) of the SIS II Decision and the SIS II Regulation have foreseen an evolution towards the normal law enforcement practice of comparing a person's fingerprints to the many sets of prints stored in SIS II ('one-to-many' search) to identify the person solely on the basis of his/her fingerprints.
However, this can only be achieved by using an Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).
And see: Statewatch Briefing: The interoperability of Justice and Home Affairs databases (pdf) by Tony Bunyan. Fingerprints and other biometrics are becoming increasingly used in EU databases and information systems and have a central role in the Commission's interoperability initiative.
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