We need to know who is crossing our borders. By November, we will propose an automated system to determine who will be allowed to travel to Europe. This way we will know who is travelling to Europe before they even get here.
– President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, 2016 State of the Union Address
Securing our borders and protecting our citizens is our first priority. ETIAS will close an information gap by cross-checking visa exempt applicants’ information against all our other systems. At the same time, the future ETIAS will be easy, quick, cheap and effective.
– First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans
What is ETIAS?
European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is a system which will gather information on all those travelling visa-free to the European Union to allow for advance migration and security checks. A similar system is used in the US where it’s called ESTA.
The ETIAS authorisation is not a visa. Nationals of visa liberalisation countries will still be able to travel without a visa but will have to obtain a travel authorisation prior to their travel to the Schengen Area. According to the Commission, this will help identify persons who may pose an irregular migration or security risk before they arrive at the border.
What does ETIAS do?
In order to decide whether to issue or reject a request to travel to the EU, an automated system will conduct prior checks. The automated system will verify the information submitted by the traveler (such as information related to identity, travel document, residence information, contact details etc.), via an online application ahead of their travel to the EU’s external borders, to assess if they pose a risk for irregular migration, security or public health.
In addition, the system will automatically process each application against other EU information systems (such as SIS, VIS, Europol’s database, Interpol’s database, the EES, Eurodac, ECRIS), a dedicated ETIAS watch list (established by Europol) and targeted screening rules to determine if there are reasonable grounds to issue or refuse a travel authorisation. It may also link up to controversial passenger name records (PNR) systems that collect and retain large amounts of data on people flying with commercial airlines.
ESTA will use three methods of spotting a thread.
- Direct hit. Looking for known entities based on information available in databases. If a person has committed a crime in her past, she might not be granted an access to the EU.
- Network analysis. Looking for unknown entities in connection with a known entity based on information/specific values available in databases. If a person has some kind of a connection with a known person of interest, for example a criminal – e.g. through a phone number, email address, etc. – she might not be granted an access to the EU.
- Data analytics. Setting risk-assessment rules and identifying patterns on the basis of risk indicators/risk profiles, looking for aggregations of stand-alone risk indicators or matches against risk profiles. This also includes outlier discovery: looking for suspicious anomalies or deviations. Is the IP address suspicious? Is the travel route uncommon?
Those supporting ETIAS say that it is a cheap and effective way to point out terrorists and other security threats before they reach the EU. According to them, it will significantly enhance the security of external borders and bridge an existing information gap on visa-free travelers by gathering information that could be vital to Member States’ authorities in advance of their arrival at the Schengen border. They say ETIAS is therefore an important step forward towards stronger and smarter information systems for borders and security.
Those opposing ETIAS start by stating that no research based evidence of the necessity of ETIAS has been delivered and that the Commission’s argument for the proposal is based on partial, ambivalent or inaccurate information. As a result, some features of the proposal, such as the collection of IP addresses, are unjustified and appear unnecessary, while the specific necessity for a measure related to irregular migration and security targeting visa-exempt third-country nationals is never fully established.
Due to the volume of personal data it will process, ETIAS should be understood as a platform for mining and profiling personal data rather than just a platform for issuing automated travel authorisation decisions.
The ETIAS screening rules aim to identify persons who are otherwise unknown to authorities but are assumed to be of interest for irregular migration, security or public health purposes. These persons are flagged not because of specific actions they have engaged in but because they display particular category traits.
The ETIAS watch list is future-oriented by aiming to deny travel authorisation to individuals who have not committed any crimes but who the authorities believe are likely to commit criminal offences in the future. This constitutes particularly severe infringements on fundamental rights.
Furthermore, the database gathered with ETIAS would be a risk for privacy and data protection. It may be used for profiling, with potentially discriminatory consequences.
According to the critics, ETIAS is a significant thread to human rights, in particular the right to private life and the right to data protection.
ETIAS in the Parliament of Shadows
The European Parliament is discussing ETIAS right now. The rapporteur – the person who is responsible for the whole Parliament’s position – is the Finnish MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri.
The characters will have different perspectives on ETIAS and they want different things from the Parliament and Mrs. Kumpula-Natri.
MEP Kumpula-Natri has organized a hearing to which she has invited different organizations to share their perspective on the matter. The larp starts on the morning when this hearing begins.
ETIAS in the World of Darkness
ETIAS is established to spot out persons who pose a threat of irregular migration, security or public health. Security or public health. Those are the words that tend to catch the eye of anybody who’s aware of the creatures that live among humans, for they most definitely are a threat to both security and public health.
When you know what you’re looking for it doesn’t take much investigation to figure out there’s more to ETIAS than the EU officials are willing to tell. You are now almost sure that one of the main reasons to establish a system like ETIAS is to find these anomalous creatures and their servants.
Creatures of the night are able to survive if nobody notices that they exist. This is why it’s crucial that the databases and information systems (such as SIS, VIS, Europol’s database, Interpol’s database, the EES, Eurodac, ECRIS, ETIAS watch list, PNR and others) stay separate and won’t start collecting and combining data. With ETIAS this is exactly what will happen. This is why most Camarilla lobbying organizations are against the system. Data mining has a strong chance to reveal patterns that result in a widespread Masquerade breach.
Please note that this info sheet is for the use of the Parliament of Shadows larp and to some extent differs from the actual details on ETIAS.