EU: French consortium to build basis for biometric super database


The European agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the security sector, EU-Lisa, has commissioned a consortium from the two French groups Idemia and Sopra Steria to set up a common system for the comparison of biometric data. The “Shared Biometrics Matching System” (SBMS) should be operational in 2022 and contain a database of over 400 million people from third countries with their fingerprints and digital facial images for automated recognition.

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The finished SMBS should be one of the largest biometric systems in the world. It is initially intended to meet the identification requirements of the new European entry and exit system for biometric border control as part of the Smart Borders program, thereby helping to combat illegal immigration and cross-border crime.

Basically, the SMBS corresponds to the higher-level “memory for identity data” and the common comparison service, which form the basis of the planned virtual union of all EU databases in the areas of security, border management and migration control. In the medium term, the aim of the large-scale project under the “Interoperability” banner is to include the Schengen Information System (SIS) with its millions of entries, the Visa Register (VIS) and the Eurodac file, which primarily stores fingerprints from asylum seekers. to be linked via a search portal from 2023.

The future European travel authorization system (ETIAS) and the criminal register for convicted third-country nationals (ECRIS-TCN), which is currently being developed, are also to be added. The SMBS should enable a comparison of the existing data “with a single click”. Border guards and police officers would soon be able to check ID cards more easily by querying all EU information systems on one screen at the same time. In principle, this creates a biometric super database, which not only data protection officers had warned of in advance.

According to the, the framework contract that has now been concluded Tender an order volume of around 300 million euros. The term is initially four years with an option for an extension of up to six years. The two companies that came into play support the EU according to their own information “has been operating other critical large-scale IT systems such as VIS, SIS and Eurodac for more than 15 years.” Especially when upgrading the basic Schengen monitoring system with the work on SIS II, there were repeated technical problems, which delayed the project for years and almost led to its abandonment.


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