Microsoft, Unisys take on EU data sharing

Companies team up to develop platform connecting law enforcement systems in 27 European countries.

Microsoft and Unisys have secured a deal to build the second generation of the Schengen Information System and Visa Information System, which will allow law enforcement agencies within the European Union to share data.

The platform will connect individual systems from 27 countries--the 25 in the European Union, plus Iceland and Norway--to the central SIS and VIS system hosted by the EU itself. The system currently connects 13 EU member states, plus Iceland and Norway.

Unisys will act as integrator for the national systems and has picked Microsoft to supply the software. Financial details for the deal were not disclosed.

The Schengen Information System first went live in 15 countries in 1995 and was designed to help individuals travel more freely within the EU and enable law enforcement authorities to track criminals and illegal immigrants attempting to cross borders.

The SIS II has already attracted controversy for its wide-reaching application. There has also been speculation that biometrics will be used as a unique identifier to track European citizens.

The European Data Protection Supervisor has already raised concerns about such a measure, saying in a recent communication that "the accuracy of biometrics is overestimated in this respect and it will facilitate unwarranted interconnection of databases."

Jo Best of reported from London.

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