It emerged this weekend that large amounts of confidential personal information held about British citizens is currently being stored on a giant computer network spanning the European Union, and can be accessed through more than 500,000 terminals. Once again, the two things that aren’t being given proper consideration are privacy and security.
As reported over at the Guardian:
The figure was revealed in a Council of the European Union document examining proposals to establish a new agency which would manage much of the 27 EU member states' shared data. The sheer number of access points to the Schengen Information System (SIS) - has triggered concerns about the security of the data.
Half a million access points – that’s more than the population of Luxembourg. It goes without saying that the SIS system has already been subject to serious breaches of security. Statewatch, a civil liberties outfit that follows security related issues across the EU, claim that personal information was extracted from the system by an official in Belgium - and was subsequently sold to an organised criminal gang.
As EU business report, the official line, sounds all too familiar:
“The second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) will be a large-scale information system containing alerts on persons and objects.” “It is a communication infrastructure between the central system and the national systems providing an encrypted virtual network dedicated”.
In reference to the expansion of the SIS database, Tony Bunyan, director of Statewatch, endorses two principles with which we can all agree:
"The greater the points of access, the greater the number of people who have access and the greater the chance that data will be misplaced, lost or illegally accessed." Furthermore, "the idea that mass databases can be totally secure and that privacy can be guaranteed is a fallacy."
Sound logic, Mr Bunyan.
By Edward Hockings