E U Smart Borders Policy Will Lead To Big Brother Type Surveillance, Green Politician Warns

A European Union scheme to implement new border control technology will result in Big Brother surveillance, a Green Party Member of the European Parliament has warned.

The European Commission’s plans for so-called ‘Smart Borders’ were published on 1 March 2013, revealing the Commission plans to implement automated systems to monitor non-EU citizens entering and leaving the bloc.

“The use of new technologies will enable smoother and speedier border crossing for third country citizens who want to come to the EU. Modernising our systems will also lead to a higher level of security by preventing irregular border crossings and detecting those who overstay,” said Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.
Jan Philipp Albrecht a German Green in the European Parliament but obviously not a Watermelon (green on the outside, red on the inside) voiced concerns that the smart borders initiative would create an “e-fortress Europe” adding there is “no evidence to show that this trend towards mass data storage has yielded any improvements for security and criminal investigations.” Data of all passengers traveling from third countries into the EU would be collected, he said.

The E U plan consists of a Registered Traveler Programme (RTP) aimed at frequent business travelers or those with relatives in the EU and an Entry/Exit System (EES). The RTP would make use of automated border control systems such as automated gates for pre-screened visitors.

The EES would digitally record the time and place of entry and exit of third country nationals and issue an alert to national authorities when there is no exit record by the expiry time. The current practice when checking a third country national wanting to cross the EU’s external borders is based mainly on the stamps in the travel document. It is easy to foresee that as social breakdown continues due to the failure of the single currency, high unemployment due to insane industrial policies and the inefficiency of high tech policing, the system would quickly be extended to monitor the movements of all citizens even within their own community.

The plan calls to mind the U K Labour government’s plan to force us all to carry national ID cards loaded with a GPS chip whenever we left our home. The plan was shelved due to public opposition but has never been abandoned. Similarly a clause in the American Healthcare System dubbed Obama care contains a clause that would enable the government to implant an RFID chip in the body of every citizen. Supporters of Obama’s health care plan protest that the bill does not state people will be chipped. This is true, but it does clear legal obstacles in the US Constitution and international human rights law to such a policy.

Together with fellow politician Ska Keller, Albrecht has set up a campaign called Smashborders to oppose the plans, urging EU citizens to fight against “the creation of an enormous database” that would infringe civil liberties.

The proposals will now go before the European Parliament and, if approved there, to the national assemblies of member states for ratification. The Commission hopes the system will be operational in 2017 or 2018.

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