1. Name of the Fund

European External Borders Fund

2. Annual programme


3. Priority

Priority “Support for the establishment of IT systems necessary for the implementation of Community instruments in the field of external borders and visas”

4. Activity

Activity 4.2 “Integration of the National Biometric Data Processing System with the Schengen Information System II (SIS II) and the Integrated Information System of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Latvia”

5. Project name

“Integration of the National Biometric Data Processing System with the Schengen Information System II (SIS II) and the Integrated Information System of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Latvia”

6. Project description

The Information Centre of the Ministry of the Interior (IC IeM) is the holder and the manager of the Biometric Data Processing System in accordance with the Biometric Data Processing Law. In accordance with the Law on the Operation of the Schengen Information System, the technical operation of the SIS in Latvia is ensured by the IC IeM, also the IC IeM performs the system manager functions in regard to the Latvian part of the SIS.

Based on these circumstances, the establishment of the link between SIS II and the Biometric Data Processing System, taking into account the availability of information and infrastructure, can be done most efficiently by the IC IeM. The Schengen Information System II (SIS II), which is planned to be put into operation in 2013, provides for the processing of biometric information.

At present, biometric information (digital photographs of the faces of the categories of persons concerned) is already stored in the Integrated Interior Information System (hereinafter IIIS). The exchange of information (including biometrics) between law enforcement authorities of the EU Member States is provided for in several pieces of EU legislation, such as Council Decision 2008/615/JHA of 23 June 2008 on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime, Council Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA of 18 December 2006 on simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union and others. On 21 May 2009, the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia adopted the “Biometric Data Processing System Law” (in force as of 10 June 2009), which regulates the establishment and operation of the national Biometric Data Processing System (hereinafter - BDAS). At the national level, biometric information will henceforth be stored in both IIIS and BDAS. At the same time, biometric information entered in the SIS II and other cross-border sharing systems used by other EU Member States will not reach IIIS and BDAS because: firstly, there is no legal basis and secondly, it will put an unnecessary load on the BDAS. Consequently, no relevant interconnections are provided for in other systems used at the transnational level, incl. SIS II, for the integration of existing biometric data into national information systems.

Within the framework of the European Regional Development Fund project “Development of a Biometric Data Processing System”, a Biometric Data Processing System (hereinafter - BDAS) will be established. Given the limited funding, the ERDF project does not envisage the introduction of an integrated search solution for biometric data, but will create a universal interface for obtaining and including biometric data from the central biometric database, thus creating the preconditions for further data exchange with other information systems, incl. SIS II.

However, in the framework of the BDAS project, the necessary procedures for the integration / verification of this data into other systems, as well as to improve all related systems and adapt their functionality for the processing of biometric data will not be included. Without the creation of interconnections and without the development of national systems, efficient and high-quality processing and operational verification of biometric data, integrated information retrieval (search with a single information retrieval request) in national systems and cross-border sharing systems will not be possible. At the same time, after conducting a feasibility study, it became clear that the State Police did not have suitable equipment (i.e. scanners, computers and, consequently, connection of technical equipment to a secure computer network - i.e. it is necessary to purchase computer network security equipment) that could be used to efficiently acquire biometric data, to include them in the BDAS, as well as to perform their necessary processing later (including for the needs of experts). In addition, in order to carry out effective preventive work to identify illegal immigrants and other individuals wanted by the law enforcement officials against the checklist, it is planned to purchase some specialized video flow cameras, which will be installed in high traffic areas, such as SBG Riga airport border checkpoint, port border checkpoints and other SBG border checkpoints. By processing poorer quality data in the BDAS, it will be much more difficult for system users, such as State Border Guard employees, to use them later to perform their functions, such as identifying individuals.

Thus, the opportunities of not only the institutions of Latvia, but also the institutions of other European Union Member States to effectively carry out border control (especially at the EU external borders), to successfully prevent and combat crime, and to identify wanted persons will not be promoted. The unavailability of biometric information provided in the EU and other countries' shared systems (lack of integrated automated search options) makes it difficult to identify wanted and missing persons and it will negatively affect identification document issuance procedures (e.g. the prevention of issuing of illegal duplicates of identification documents is not ensured), border control procedures, etc. At present, automated biometric verification of personal biometric data is not carried out at the EU's external borders (the national BDAS is under development, it is planned to be introduced at the end of 2011), which negatively affects the identity verification of persons crossing borders and reduces the overall efficiency and security of border control procedures.

With the introduction of the national BDAS, it will be possible to verify the identity of persons crossing the border against the national biometric data set, but if data exchange procedures for data exchange with IIIS and other cross-border sharing systems are not developed, it will not be possible to perform integrated (automated) verification of persons crossing the border and other persons subject to legal verification against the array of biometric data included in national and transnational sharing systems, thus seriously reducing the effectiveness of the control procedures. The establishment of the BDAS and its interconnection with IIIS and SIS II and other cross-border sharing systems, as well as the establishment of an appropriate technical infrastructure, is necessary as it will:

  • make it possible to prevent the possibility of illegal issuance of several passports / other identification documents or documents certifying certain rights to one and the same person;
  • increase the security of personal identification documents, travel documents and residence permits against forgery;
  • improve the identification of known persons who pose a threat to the security and public order of Latvia, the EU Member States and other countries;
  • improve the identification of a person if he or she has lost a travel document, attempts to cross the border without a travel document or if the authenticity of a person's travel document is suspected;
  • contribute to reducing illegal immigration;

7. The project is planned to be implemented by January 31, 2013.