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European Fingerprint Database to go Live
14 January 2003

The first ever Europe-wide fingerprint database used to register asylum seekers will go live across participating EU member states tomorrow, the European Commission has announced. Entitled EURODAC, the automated identification system will register the fingerprints of asylum seeker and certain categories of illegal immigrants to help fulfill the "Dublin Convention" on the criteria and mechanisms for defining which state is responsible for processing a particular applicant, as well as reducing the incidence of multiple applications.

Participating states will fingerprint all asylum seekers over 14. Once in the database the system compare the prints using a biometric algorithm - considered the safest and most accurate method for identification - and if a match is found, the asylum seeker will be returned to the country where their prints were first registered.

The new tool was developed as part of the Common European Asylum System, originally announced by the European Council at its meeting in October 1999 in Tampere, Finland.

Read the announcement in full

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