What is the Schengen Information System (SIS)

France has flagged more than 78,000 people as security threats in a database intended to let European police share information on the continent’s most dangerous residents, more than all other European countries put together.

A German parliamentarian, Andrej Hunko, was the first to raise the alarm about potential misuse of the Schengen Information System (SIS) database in a question to his country’s Interior Ministry about “discreet checks” , secret international checks on people considered a threat to national security or public safety.

But, why different countries seemed to apply very different criteria? “The increase in alerts cannot be explained by the threat of Islamist terrorism alone.

Europol reports a four-digit number of confirmed foreign fighters, yet the increase of SIS alerts in 2017 is several times that, That response included a spreadsheet detailing for the first time how many people were flagged for checks by each European country last year , more than 134,000 in all.

“This could mean that families and contacts of these individuals are also being secretly monitored. It is also possible that the measure is being used on a large scale for combatting other criminal activity,”

But a relatively unknown provision in European law allows countries to flag people for the “discreet checks”, allowing law enforcement in one country to quietly notify counterparts elsewhere of a person’s location and activities.

Use of the system , intended for individuals who pose a threat to national security or public safety , has expanded enormously since Islamic State extremists attacked Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016, from 69,475 in 2015 to 134,662 last year, according to data from EU-LISA and Germany.

If someone is flagged for a check, their name will come up for any law enforcement official who has stopped them anywhere in Europe , whether trying to cross an external border or running a red light.

In the entry, the requesting country can ask for a subsequent action, ranging from simply reporting back their location, vehicle, and traveling companions to detaining them immediately for arrest.

The checks, unlike arrest warrants, expire after a year, although the countries are notified of pending expirations and can renew them at will.

Vast disparities in its use by individual countries raise questions about both the effectiveness of the tools and the criteria countries are using to updating the sistem

People are not informed about the existence of this alert, which makes this correct. But at the same there needs to be a proportionality assessment, take of that certain member states are introducing alerts en masse to the system.


Photo: G/Spadafora/M.G.Security