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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

On the border, Austria takes migrant fingerprints, then discards them

SPIELFELD, Austria/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – On the Austrian-Slovenia border, one of the last stops on the migrant route to Germany, a policeman explains that after his 12-hour shift taking new arrivals’ fingerprints, most are lost minutes after they are taken.

“We are not allowed to save the fingerprints,” the Austrian policeman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said as he sat in a tent at the Spielfeld border crossing. “We do what we’re asked to do.”

Austria, which saw 700,000 migrants crossing its borders last year, says it is not legally allowed to save and share with other European states more than 90 percent of the fingerprint data it takes of migrants fleeing war and poverty, a potential security problem at a major migrant hub.

It is only required to upload onto Europe’s shared fingerprint database, Eurodac, the data of those who actually apply for asylum in the country, which is less than 10 percent of those crossing into Austria.

So Austria takes digital fingerprints of everyone entering the country, checks whether they hav


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