back to article Brussels blocks UK from biometric superdatabase

European judges have rejected an attempt by British security officials to gain access to a huge new store of visa application data being set up to combat illegal immigration, organised crime and terrorism. The government went to court to force the EU to allow agencies such as MI5, SOCA and the UK Border Agency to use the Visa …


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  1. shmirsh
    Thumb Down


    wanting to have their cake and eat it....

    1. Tigra 07

      RE: Shmirsh

      Well done for missing the point.

      It's not about greed, it's about intelligence sharing.

      We share and they don't.

      It's about paying membership to the EU and having possible terrorist information denied from us while even countries paying less than us have access to it.

      We're a lightening rod for fanatics and terrorists and pay more than our fair share for Euro membership and it still doesn't get us access to databases even Russia and Belgium will have access to

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        @ Tigra 07

        Well done you for missing the point.

        The UK is not a signatory of the Schengen Agreement. It maintains immigration control including those from other EU countries, who need to carry a valid identity document at all times (not necessarily a passport, I might add).

        It has sweet fanny adams to do with who pays for what - you just sound like a Daily Mail reader - and it has rather a lot to do with what agreements are in place. Frankly, the UK has not agreed to the Schengen thingy and as such it is not eligible to access the data. It's a two way deal. Which part of this is difficult to understand?

        Furthermore, "British agencies were offering to grant EU countries access to our visa application records, the Central Reference System, in return.". Really? That's generous. As opposed to it happening as a matter of course as a part of the two way nature of the agreement, but then maybe the British government don't understand what agreements are either? After all, look at the (one-way) ones entered into with the US.

      2. thecakeis(not)alie

        Actually, it seems the reverse.

        It seems like the UK wanting to attempt some sort of creepy precrime pattern matching on individuals who are members of the Schengen accords (Schengen != EU!) The Schengen accord countries said something to the effect of “bugger off.”

        Maybe if you want access to Schengen accord data you should sign the treaty yourselves. Otherwise, take a hike.

        1. Tigra 07


          Don't know about you but i'd rather be arrested in the UK than with a European arrest warrant, where i'll get deported to a country that i may not have even broken the law in and may not have much chance of a fair trial.

          Different EU countries have differnt laws, you can't have things like a European Arrest Warrant and single justice system because they don't work the same in each country.

          EU countries already have access to our criminal database and refuse to let us have access to theirs because we're not in the Shengen Treaty?

          It didn't matter when they were accessing our databases did it?!

          1. thecakeis(not)alie

            Are you a UKIP supporter by any chance?

            One of those folks with the holes in their frontal lobes? First of: Schengen != EU. I know it's a difficult thing to grasp, but they are separate and distinct. If the EU has access to your DB, that has zip/zero/zilch to do with Schengen countries having access to your DB. They may (in some cases) be the same countries...but the treaties providing access are different.

            Secondly…suck it up princess! I’d trust many of the justice systems of the EU member countries a helluvalot quicker than I’d trust the UK. Hell, the UK ninth on the list of countries to “under no circumstances set foot in that country unless there is a significant job opportunity.” I sure as hell don’t trust your country to respect the concepts of “innocent UNLESS proven guilty.” I think most of your laws are completely insane. Furthermore, I am far more convinced that I am going to get a fair trial in most EU countries that I ever would in the UK.

            Maybe the UK should realise it can’t have its cake and eat it too. The EU is the only thing preventing your country from collapsing into a NIBYfied police state with some pretty damned Orwellian overtones. Given that your country has decided that it apparently doesn’t need a military that can actually win a war of any type it’s a pretty good thing your have some powerful friends with whom to combine your efforts. Eventually, the day will come where it is not Greece that is in the shit but rather the UK. On that day you will be quite glad to have the EU helping your country out.

            Put simply: there are advantages to EU membership. I only wish my country was allowed to join. Joining the Schengen accords fully would be an additional boon: it would help to fully join you up with these other countries and hopefully move the lot of you towards a more fully integrated system. The goal isn’t “rule Brittania and screw everyone else.” The goal is “work together towards the common good.”

            If you want full access to the data of other countries in the Schengen Accords, how about playing by the rules and fully committing to the Schengen accords. If you want access to the data of EU member countries, then bring it up with the EU. The accords are different: the membership is different. The treaties and negotiations are different.

            In the meantime, quit trying to bash the EU for your country’s failure to participate in the Schengen accords. Membership in the EU is probably the best thing that has ever happened to the UK; it has repeatedly saved you from yourselves…and pulling out of the EU still won’t solve the Shengen Accord problem.

  2. EvilGav 1

    A hint . . .

    . . . as to what the security services would do if we had a national ID database :

    "the ability to apply data mining and pattern recognition software to databases, might well be the key to effective pre-emption"


    1. MinionZero
      Big Brother

      @"data mining and pattern recognition" ... "the key to effective pre-emption"

      In other words, its effectively a form of Precrime detection. Well now they are punishing Thoughtcrime in the UK, its not much more for them to move to punish us on the basis we are likely to do something. So they can then inflict corrective treatment on us to make us unlikely to commit the crimes they think we may commit!

      Wonderful :(

  3. rpjs

    Simple solution

    Join Schengen.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      We are Part of Schengen... Just not the Open Borders part

      We will get the SIS II Data of Schengen but not the VIS data...

      You only get the VIS data if you agree to open your borders and allow people in based on Schengen Visas as opposed to UK Visas...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      But not one a I'd want to adopt.

      There is no such thing as a free lunch. What would it cost?

      We've just started a negotiation to get the data, that is all. We're just haggling over the price now.

    3. JohnG

      Join Schengen?

      Take drive around Coquelles (the area near the French end of Eurotunnel) and you would see why this would be a very bad idea for the UK.

  4. Alex 83

    take take take

    Our government continually feels that it is privilege to the perks of being part of the EU while remaining on the fringes and being a pseudo member giving little in return.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "giving little in return."

      Well, if you don't include a big pile of money.....

      I believe the UK is one of the few net contributers financially.

      Can anyone confirm?

      1. Tigra 07

        RE: skelband

        The UK, Germany and France are the highest i believe.

        We're the one that doesn't get represented properly as our entrants in the European test thingy fail a lot (something to do with knowing more than one language)

        We also take a lot less back in farm subsidies and so get a rebate.

      2. Mickey Finn

        Net Contributors

        I believe the net contributors to this exercise in fascism are Germany (as one would expect), the UK and the Netherlands.

        As I understand it, the French are are net recipients.

        The problem of course is that every penny, is a nail in the coffin of independence and national sovereignty.

        Isn't it perverse that at a time of national poverty due to the profligacy of our former leader, coupled with the fallout from the criminal activities of our banking fraternity, that our so-called government is increasing public spending, rather than cutting it. Worse, it is diverting public expenditure away from the welfare system (for what seems to be ideological reasons), whilst increasing its spending on such mad leftie schemes as "climate change" £18.3bn per annum, the EU (membership fees only) £7bn rising to £12bn by 2012, and overseas aid, rising from £7bn to nearly £12bn?

        Given the above nonsense, it makes complete sense that our government thinks that it is OK to carry on paying for information that we don't get.

        BTW: Did anyone realise that according to Pravda (BBC), under the part of Schengen that the UK has agreed to, it is incumbent upon our government to honour prescriptions wherever they are written in the EU? This means, that if a Doctor in the Netherlands writes a prescription for cannabis, it is perfectly legal to import (via ones favourite koffieshop) a three month supply of said "medicine".

        A case of the biter bit, methinks.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Biometric Superdatabase is going ahead....

    As this is part of SISII which the UK ae signed up to. So in a few years SOCA, M15, GCHQ, Police, etc should have access all fingerprints being held on any fingerprint system in the EU and viceversa...

    And Prum take this ahead for DNA.

    All the UK has been denied is access to the VIS data which just says if a certain individual was refused a Schengen Visa...does not say why...but that he/she was refused entry into Schengen.

  6. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Schengen club

    So there is a Schengen club, and you refused to join, but now you want to have access to part of it, but still not join?

    Join and be in, or don't join and be out. You can leave now, get your own coat and shut the door.

  7. Dave 129


    "However, without direct access, VIS data cannot be used as part of the mass passenger profiling announced by Home Secretary Theresa May in the wake of last week's foiled airline bomb plot."

    Could someone please explain how increased passenger profiling would help prevent subversion of the airfreight industry?


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      awkward questions

      > Could someone please explain how increased passenger profiling would help prevent subversion of the airfreight industry?

      Don't ask questions like that. Your government is in control and here to help. If the Daily Mail says this stops the terrorists and illegal immigrants from ruining house prices, that's good enough for me. Won't someone think of the children?

    2. Neil 51


      ...If the package being sent by freight is wrapped in brown paper, it's singled out for extra attention. Packages in white paper are waved through.

    3. Cameron Colley

      @Dave 129

      Things are as the the government's friends in the security and IT businesses say they are -- otherwise how will they get money back for the payments they make to MPs to plant bombers on planes?

      If they want to terrorists will blow up planes -- the only answer being to not ever allow anyone or anything on a plane.

      All these measures are about is stopping the staged "terrorist plots" by spending more money with the "friends" of government ministers or with companies ministers or civil servants wish to work for.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    One of the reasons the UK wouldn't fully join Schegen

    is that it gives citizens protections across borders. For example an EU citizen, who is prescribed cannabis is Holland (where doctors *can* prescribe it) would be protected from prosecution in (say) France.

    I am pleased the EU has bitchslapped the UK on this. I wish it would kick ass a bit more in other cases where the UK likes to talk the talk, but refuses to walk the walk ... like HMRC and it's "limits" on how much wine you can bring back from the continent.

  9. Queeg

    That's the price..

    ..of being on the outside pissing in ,instead of the inside pissing out.

  10. Stratman


    Just hack the database.

    That's what America and Israel will do.

  11. Britt Johnston

    they can still try to use it

    but through the hacker or corruption branches of MI5. The whole idea of a secret service is to do illegal things, they just shouldn't get caught.

  12. JaitcH

    Britain: Neither quite 'in' or quite 'out' of Schengen or the EU

    Britain has only itself to blame. The word is 'commitment'. It never has been fully committed to the EU, whatever the shade of the government.

    No doubt it will purloin a password and then rummage around for the information.

  13. John 98

    Cheaper and safer

    Yet another reason to join Schengen (staying out also causes problems for e.g. running trains through the Chunnel from Holland, Germany, Italy etc). Time to overrule the eurosceptics and their bleating about national sovereignty (which we lost decades ago in a changing world - like Suez 1956, children).

  14. P. Lee
    Big Brother

    Better out than in

    Hands up who wants to have their biometrics added to a massive pan-European, government-accessible, law-enforcement database.

    While you've got your hands up, let me just fingerprint you and your children and take a retina scan too. Actually, you may as well just get used to having your hands up.

    If the Europeans want to compile such a thing then fine, but count me out.

    When the road goes over a cliff, being in the slow-lane of a two-speed Europe is actually a good idea. Having just got rid of our own id card system, let's stay out of one beyond our control. It looks like did the right thing for once.

    I'm willing to accept the possibility of a few people getting into the country illegally and a little extra crime too, if it means we keep control of our borders and don't hand this much power to the government.

    1. william henderson 1

      "Having just got rid of our own id card system......."

      you realy think so?

      what makes you think that?

      "we" may not carry a single, unifying card but we all but do.

      by using plastic money, e-mail and "social networking" sites, (and with the covert help of the likes of google), "we" all but hand our life story on a platter to the men in gray.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As strong as the weakest link

    I do not think joining an open Borders plan is a good idea at all for brittain. It's not a buggy not having access to that data. There are other ways.

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