Britain faces heat over ‘illegal’ use of EU migration data

Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie in 't Veld | Jeroen Jumelet/EPA

Britain faces heat over ‘illegal’ use of EU migration data

The spat over the UK’s use of a European border control database could impact security cooperation after Brexit.


1/9/20, 4:02 PM CET

Updated 1/9/20, 5:50 PM CET

European parliamentarians lashed out at the United Kingdom on Thursday over reports of abuse and illegal copying of a border control database compiled by the EU.

Their message: We want our data back.

“In the kindness of our hearts we have given them access to the Schengen Information System, and they are behaving like cowboys,” Liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld said about British authorities’ handling of the migration information.

The U.K. is under fire over reports that the country mishandled and illegally copied data held in the SIS database, which contains tens of millions of records on EU citizens and people traveling in Europe, including fingerprints, facial images and DNA data.

The U.K. was granted access to the Schengen database in 2015, despite not being a member of the area that allows people to travel through it without passports and visas.

Liberal MEPs are now calling for a “full investigation” into the U.K.’s misuse of the data

As early as August 2015, the European Commission found misuse and mismanagement issues in its evaluations of the U.K.’s use of the database — issues that the EUObserver first reported on in 2018 after obtaining a confidential document from the EU executive.

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