Immigration: French Firm Hosted Unlawful Copy of SIS Data for UK: Report

Immigration: French Firm Hosted Unlawful Copy of SIS Data for UK: Report

Did immigration issues drive us to Brexit? What is the word on the streets right now?

EU warned on visa-free regime with Caribbean countries offering passports for saleA French firm previously led by a recent candidate for the European Commissioner from France had a part in the illegal Copying of SIS Data by the UK, for which Schengen Visa Info reported last July.

According to a report obtained by EUobserver, Thierry Breton, a commissioner candidate for the industrial policy of the EU recently approved by European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen, is now the former chief executive of ATOS, a French multinational information technology service and consulting company headquartered in Bezons, France and offices worldwide.

ATOS, which specializes in hi-tech transactional services, unified communications, cloud, big data and cybersecurity services, is one of the three different private companies, which administer SIS copies in their own premises or in rented premises.

The report claims that Breton’s ATOS, had permitted another private contractor, IBM to store a partial technical copy of SIS known as Semaphore on its premises.

The copy contained alerts for arrests, checked against inbound and outbound passenger information, supplied by airlines and shipping companies.

The report says such copies should never be entrusted to third parties like private contractors because it increases the risk it will be leaked, stolen or misused.

UK’s Illegal Copying of SIS data and United States’ Access

Last year, a classified 29-page report on the violations of the British authorities regarding the Schengen Information System had leaked into the media.

The document, compiled by the EU Commission and Schengen experts from the EU countries, claimed that committed violations that “constitute serious and immediate risks to the integrity and security of SIS data as well as for the data subjects.”

The document explains that the UK authorities with access to the SIS made numerous copies of data stored in the system, full and partial, which then it stored on laptops at airports and government offices. Private contractors hired by the UK government, often from the US, were also given access.

The EU commissioner for security Julian King did not give any clear answers when asked if the UK had given the European Commission any guarantees that it was not sharing the data with the Americans. Instead, he only said that a program that the EU pursues “those concerns with the countries involved.”

However, during a talk to journalists in July, Commissioner King had indirectly confirmed that the UK was taking “practical steps” to correct its mistake of illegally making copies of classified information from the database of the Schengen Information System (SIS).

UK’s Access to SIS as a non-Schengen Country

The UK, which is an EU member country (until Brexit finally takes place) opted out from joining the Schengen area but has some access to the SIS since 2015.

SIS is an EU-run database that functions as a basis for cooperation in law enforcement, by providing alert information for police, migration, justice and other authorities regarding missing people, criminal entities associated with crimes, and people banned from entering and staying in the Schengen Area.

The UK police, which currently searches the SIS II automatically, checked the system 603 million times last year. However, a no-deal Brexit would see the UK law enforcement agencies lose access to the SIS II, and fall back on an alternative Interpol system, the I-24/7 database.

If on January 31, the UK crashes out of the European Union without an agreement, the country would then lose the right to access to millions of pieces of information on criminals stored in the SIS. The UK would go from having up to 79 million pieces of information on criminals, terrorists and missing people to “hundreds of thousands”.

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