BRUSSELS - This investigation seeks to uncover the state of facial recognition technology in Europe. The journalists obtained leaked internal European Union documents that reveal law enforcement is lobbying to create a network of national police facial recognition databases. 

Caitlin Chandler (Germany), Zach Campbell (Spain) and Chris Jones (UK) unearth the stories behind the development and deployment of facial recognition technologies in the EU. A report drawn up by the national police forces of 10 EU member states, led by Austria, calls for new EU legislation to introduce and interconnect such databases in every member state. 

The report was circulated among EU and national officials in November 2019. If previous data-sharing arrangements are a guide, the new facial recognition network will likely be connected to similar databases in the U.S., creating what privacy researchers are calling a massive transatlantic consolidation of biometric data. In addition, the implementation of the databases across the EU raise serious concerns for citizen's rights to privacy, potentially allowing for increased surveillance of the public.

The report was produced as part of discussions on expanding the Prüm system, an EU-wide initiative connecting DNA, fingerprint, and vehicle registration databases for mutual searching. 

Photo credit: @ Yotam Hadar for The Intercept


Team members

Caitlin Chandler

Caitlin Chandler is a longform journalist based in Berlin, Germany

Chris Jones

Chris Jones is a journalist and researcher based in London. 

Zach Campbell

Zach Campbell is a journalist based in Barcelona, Spain.

A grant of EUR 9.000 allocated on 23/09/2019

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