19. März 2016 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Frontex asks for smartphone apps to control refugees · Kategorien: Balkanroute, Griechenland · Tags:


EU asks tech firms to pitch refugee-tracking systems
Border agency Frontex has asked for designs for smartphone apps and
databases to track and manage refugees arriving in Europe

Diane Taylor and Emma Graham-Harrison
Thursday 18 February 2016 15.12 GMT Last modified on Monday 22 February ; 2016 18.29 GMT

European governments keen to bring the refugee crisis under control are
considering using apps, biometrics and smart cards to attempt to manage
refugees before they leave countries with border crossings into the EU.

EU states in partnership with Frontex, the EU external border agency,
have asked tech companies to pitch ways to track and control people
trying to reach the continent before they get here.

For those who do reach Europe, a smartcard ID system could be used to
control access to food and accommodation, under one proposal.. Another
suggestion is to tempt refugees to download tracking apps on their
smartphones by offering helpful information about sea crossings and
conditions in different EU countries.

A meeting discussing technology to “manage” the flow of refugees took
place on the island of Lesbos at the end of last month, coordinated by
Frontex, along with Eulisa, the European agency that deals with
frameworks and structures for European databases, and EASO, the European
Asylum Support Office.

Representatives from EU member states attended and several tech
companies were invited to present proposals. The firms included
Securiport LLC, Crossmatch, Unisys, Thales and 3M.

Turkish aid organisation distributes humanitarian aid on the
Turkish-Syrian border
Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Under one proposal, a smartcard ID system could be used to control
access to food and accommodation. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Officials from Unisys said their technology could help prevent some
migrants from coming to Europe at all, discourage others from making
hazardous sea crossings and reduce the role of smugglers. It said its
plans would be to begin tracking as many refugees as possible before
they flee conflict zones or while they are in refugee camps close to
these conflict zones.

Rudolf De Schipper of Unisys told the Guardian: “We understand that the
EU wants to provide something quickly. At the meeting they were looking
for solutions that can be deployed and rolled out in a matter of months.”

He said he expected there would be a tendering and procurement process
across the EU. “We can go from a situation where there is hardly any
control to a situation where you can see where people are in Europe. The
moment you start controlling things in difficult situations people tend
to comply,” he said. However, he added that while tech companies can
provide technical solutions it is for EU states to decide how the
technology would be rolled out.

EU migration crisis: Greece threatened with Schengen area expulsion
Read more
Refugee support groups and privacy organisations, however, questioned
suggestions that IT companies could persuade people to put tracking apps
on their phones in exchange for information about weather and the safety
of different routes.

Refugees already have access to that kind of data from informal
networks, they say, and the extremely dangerous circumstances of their
trip are a constant reminder that the EU does not want them to cross
borders. That makes them unlikely to embrace an app that would make them
easier for European governments to follow and intercept.

Some people also lose their phones on the perilous sea crossing or could
choose to throw them overboard if they were worried about surveillance,
using a new handset when they arrive, ending that line of surveillance.

And if any of the plans for data collection in countries outside of the
EU involve on the ground equipment or teams, they would have to get
approval of national intelligence agencies, often wary of westerners’
intentions in the area.

EU countries have expressed concern about the lack of control they have
over the large number of refugees entering Europe and the dangerous
routes they are taking and are looking for solutions.

More than a million migrants arrived in Europe by sea last year, with
3,771 people recorded dead or missing. This year has seen 80,000, and a
further 403 people so far added to the total of those having died trying
to reach European shores.

Following the Paris terrorist attacks on 13 November last year there
have been fears that two of the terrorists might have entered Europe
through routes used by refugees. This has increased the sense or urgency
among EU states to identify terrorists who might reach Europe this way.

Migrants charge their phones at a UN camp in the village of Idomeni, Greece
Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Experts say migrants already have sophisticated networks providing them
with real-time information so they would be unlikely to subscribe to an
app promoted by the EU. Photograph: Nikos Arvanitidis/EPA
This week Greece opened refugee registration centres on the most
affected four islands, Lesbos, Samos, Kos and Chios.

At the meeting last month on Lesbos, the various IT companies showcased
their latest ideas. Unisys said it had devised a “refugee management
suite” which they said could provide pre-registration of asylum seekers.
Its proposals included:

Controlling refugees before they reach Europe using phone apps and
biometric data gathering;
Tracking people once they are inside Europe using new identity cards;
System of red flags and data analytics to highlight those with
backgrounds which merit investigation.
At the moment EU states use Eurodac, a system of fingerprinting asylum
seekers once they have arrived in Europe. The aim of the fingerprinting
system is to prevent people from claiming asylum in more than one country.

De Schipper and Roland Heesen from Unisys said that this system was not
designed for the large numbers of refugees and does not capture detailed
data about their backgrounds. The company hopes to link up different
databases to identify whether any refugee has any links with terrorism
or other crimes.

“We want to produce a refugee card that gives them their own identity.
If you give them a card they can get food and benefits … One
possibility could be to use a monetary mechanism to give access to
additional services. If someone is not without means they could get –
not a preferential treatment, that would be out of the question – but
instead of going to a refugee camp they might go to a hotel,” said De

Unisys said they already had the intellectual property rights to the
software required and to implement such a system would simply be a
matter of integrating different data into one system. “We have the
engine and we have the wheels, we just need to put it all together to
make a car that works,” said Heesen.

European states deeply divided on refugee crisis before key summit
Read more
But some of the frontline organisations working with migrants questioned
how such a system would work. Dr Maurice Stierl of WatchTheMed Alarm
Phone, an organisation of activists that supports free movement of
migrants, criticised the proposals. The organisation operates an
emergency phone service for migrants whose boats get into trouble in
various stretches of sea around Europe, contacting the nearest
coastguards to alert them when they receive an SOS call. In the last 15
months they have received about 1,400 distress calls.

He said that Syrians in particular already have sophisticated networks
providing them with real-time information so they would be unlikely to
subscribe to an app promoted by the EU to track their movements both
before and after they reach Europe.


Migrants use smartphones which have orientation facilities. WhatsApp,
Viber, Skype, Twitter and Facebook all provide up-to-date information
before they cross a stretch of sea. “We have a healthy scepticism about
these proposals,” said Stierl. “European policymakers and border
authorities are worried because they can’t stop migration so they are
looking at technological solutions. This is a scary development. It’s a
new form of surveillance.”

Rachel Robinson, policy officer for civil liberties advocacy group
Liberty, said any attempt to use “behaviour analytics which treat past
conduct as currency for food and shelter mark a new descent into the
moral abyss. Shame on the EU for seeking out new ways to flout its legal
and moral obligations to protect those fleeing extreme human rights abuses.”

A spokeswoman for Frontex said: “The meeting took place on 27 and 28
January. It was organised by us and other member states. We are looking
at what technology is available to manage this issue and are developing
advice to member states.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting our
European partners in ensuring the full and proper management of the EU’s
external border, tackling illegal migration and deterring people from
risking their lives on perilous journeys.”

Other efforts to track asylum seekers have attracted controversy.
Recently the Guardian revealed that some asylum seekers in Cardiff were
required to wear brightly coloured wristbands to be eligible to receive
food. Within hours of this being made public the Home Office
subcontractor, Clearsprings Ready Homes, abandoned the practice and
during subsequent evidence to the home affairs select committee
apologised to asylum seekers for this policy.

• This article was amended on 22 February 2016 to correct the spelling
of Rudolf De Schipper’s first name.

Kommentare geschlossen.