This past week, the United Kingdom Minister of State for Immigration, Damian Green, announced that the UK will join the Eurodac fingerprint database, a large centralized database containing the fingerprint data of asylum seekers and illegal border crossers who are found within EU territory. Accordng to Green, the move will assist Europe in streamlining its immigration processes. The Eurodac regulation, which governs the operation of the fingerprint database, is designed to prevent abuse of asylum processes by helping European governments ascertain the most appropriate jurisdiction for asylum applications, thus making it difficult for asylum seekers to make applications for asylum in several Member States at once.
Predictably, this move has met with criticism from privacy rights organizations who have voiced concerns over the government’s readiness to share personal information with foreign states whose law enforcement systems display varying degrees of accountability. For their part, immigration control advocates applaud the move as an important law enforcement and argue that adequate controls are in place to avoid abuses of the Eurodac system.