Feasibility study of a Common Identity Repository (CIR)
Accurate information is an essential requirement for ensuring the smooth identification of bona fide travellers to the European Union (EU) and to detect false identities, which are often a gateway for criminal activities and for irregular migration. The current identity management of third country nationals (TCNs) in the Schengen Area however faces a number of shortcomings. First, it is difficult to identify TCNs with multiple identities and/or detect identity fraud due to: (i) the inability to match one individual to many European central systems (ECS) in real time; (ii) the lack of fast and... seamless access to existing information as the data collected on TCNs is currently dispersed in various central systems; and (iii) the difficulty to differentiate between ‘false negatives’ and positives, which can lead to inadequate decisions being made (e.g. non justified refusal of entry, needless and repeated controls). Secondly, law enforcement authorities face conditions different according to the non-law enforcement information system to be accessed, which can hamper the effectiveness of their controls. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, there is no central identity management approach at European level. In particular, existing border management and migration systems such as the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Visa Information System (VIS) and EURODAC have not been designed for exchanging information with any other system, and no component exists today to interconnect systems that constitute information silos. However, the next-generation of large scale IT systems such as the Entry/Exit System (EES), and possibly the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), is being designed and developed with interoperability in mind, and therefore may contribute to overcome the identity management shortcomings mentioned above. The European Commission’s Communication2 Stronger and Smarter Information Systems for Borders and Security (COM(2016) 205) presented ideas on how information systems could be developed in the future to ensure that border guards, migration authorities, police officers and judicial authorities can have the necessary information at their disposal more quickly and easily. One solution proposed and further examined in this report is a Common Identity Repository (CIR) that could act as a single component centralising the search of identity data for third country nationals (TCN) and storing the connections (links) between all the identities for TCNs that appear in more than one of the EU central systems. In the areas of border management (e.g. first-line border checks), migration (e.g. visa application, immigration hot-spots, return process), and security and law enforcement (e.g. in-land identity control, law enforcement investigations), a CIR would also help in detecting and “correcting” multiple (potentially fraudulent) identities on the basis of biometric matches to be provided by the new shared Biometric Matching Service (sBMS). It would thus help users to make quick decisions concerning potential further checks of a given person, to obtain indications on identities stored in other central systems that they would not necessarily directly consult, or to improve the quality of identity data stored in the systems.