Webinar – A View to a Border: 4. The use of new technologies and challenges on data protection

In Cooperation with the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT)

WEDNESDAY 12th MAY

9am EST / 2pm UK / 3pm CET

The use of new technologies and challenges on data protection in the context of cross border cooperation and information sharing to counter terrorism and related transnational organized crime

  • Introduction to the webinar series thematic areas
  • Interactive Dialogue: Previous Experiences & Success Stories
  • Q & A

UNCCT and INTERPOL, will jointly implement project, ‘HOTSPOT’. The project supports Member States strengthen their capacities by enhancing cross-border cooperation and operational information sharing through the development and implementation of a sustainable and integrated mechanism for risk assessment. The mechanism relies on the collection of biometric data that will be crosschecked on real time form the frontline against INTERPOL databases, to efficiently prevent, detect, and disrupt the travel of terrorists and their affiliates, including FTFs,  who may make use of irregular migration routes and the criminal organizations that facilitate it. INTERPOL’s databases of fingerprints and facial images are central to the project.

The case study will address the outcomes of the data collection and screening trial conducted in Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia in September and October 2019. Over a two-day exercise in each country, officers collected fingerprints and facial photos from 480 individuals  who were accommodated in the reception centers for irregular aliens after crossing the border outside official border check points and without any identification document. Data comparison and profiles  collected from individuals – all over the age of 18 – claiming to come from Central Asia and the Middle East and North Africa region revealed one match of an individual who had already been found trying to enter Europe illegally in 2011. Case information was shared with respective countries for appropriate action.

Understanding, anticipating, and effectively addressing current and emerging terrorism and security threats are critically important but are also among the most challenging tasks of the law enforcement community. Terrorists and their affiliates often move across borders and regions in order to recruit, establish new cells and areas of influence, plan and organize attacks, avoid detection and arrest, finance their activities, and return to their countries of origin.

Timely access to critical information about identified or suspected terrorist activity is central to counter-terrorism efforts. The exchange of information and cross-border cooperation are critical tools for investigations into transnational crimes as well as for the identification of terrorists and foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) (including returnees and relocators) as well as the organized criminal networks that facilitate their travel. Enhancing the sharing of operational information on terrorists and FTFs, including biometric data, assist in building situational awareness of travel routes and modus operandi so that coordinated measures for prevention and prosecution may be strategically implemented. However, information exchange and inter-agency cooperation, both within and between countries, while routinely touted as critical components of border security and management, have historically been difficult to achieve and remain significant challenges.

The objective of the webinar is to raise awareness of the need to address terrorist threats and cross-border challenges through effective information sharing within a regional approach. Furthermore, it will offer a platform to highlight the importance of inter-agency coordination and cooperation at the national, regional and interregional levels in the adoption and implementation of operational response measures within a rule of law framework to comply with the obligations set forth in the relevant international instruments (especially those on human rights, refugee and international humanitarian law) to enable Member States to better address the terror-crime nexus and effectively protect their borders against potential incursions by terrorists, traffickers and other transnational criminals. Finally, it will also enable representatives of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to discuss common issues and share identified good practices and lessons learned on the available tools and technological developments.