The IAM PERSONA Literature Guide on Impact Assessment of Border Control Technologies offers a selection of recommended literature for further reading and relevant references on the subject matter. 

1 Impacts of border control technologies

The management of the external borders of the European Union have for the last 15 years been highly technologized. This development is essentially a response to an ever-increasing number of travels to the EU, and at the same time an attempt to stop irregular migrants, criminals, and terrorists from crossing the borders. The objectives of new border control technologies in the European context are therefore concerned with facilitating and speed up the border crossing process for the majority of travellers, and to hinder and stop those categories of migrants that might pose a threat to the security of the Union and its citizens. The technologization of the borders does however raise a number of challenges of legal, technical, ethical, and societal nature. In the following sub-sections you will find literature on how border control technologies might impact: travellers (1.1), migration in general (1.2), the society (1.3) as well as the nature of borders and the tasks of border guards (1.4). Finally, you will find literature that examines the consequences of concrete control devices that have already been tested and implemented (1.5).

Note: References marked with ≡ are OPEN ACCESS.

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2 Impact assessment, risk analysis and public/stakeholder participation

The implementation of new technologies for border control always carries a possibility of creating new vulnerabilities and unintended consequences. Impact assessment is a systematic process that is used to evaluate the possible effects, both positive and negative, of a given initiative prior to its implementation. In this context, Impact assessment is therefore a method for assessing the ethical, societal, and legal consequences a technology might bring, and can for example be used to assess consequences for fundamental rights, personal data protection and privacy. Assessing the technology before its implementation makes it possible to find solutions for mitigating the negative impacts and minimise the risks of the technology. The assessment method also includes the participation of the public and other stakeholders in order to engage and involve the end-users of the technology, and to take their concerns into consideration. The literature provided in the following sub-sections contributes with information on the constitutive elements of an impact assessment of border control technologies. Some of the literature focuses on specific types of impact assessments such as data protection impact assessment (DPIA), privacy impact assessment (PIA) and ethical impact assessment (EIA). Information on risk analysis and approaches to public and stakeholder participation is also included.

Note: References marked with ≡ are OPEN ACCESS.

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3 Border management law (EU)

The legal framework for managing borders and migration in the European Union is complex. In the following sub-sections you will find an overview of the relevant legislations on EU large scale databases such as the Schengen Information System (SIS II), the Visa Information System (VIS) and the Entry-Exit System (EES) and their interoperability. It also covers relevant legislations covering the exchange of information between relevant authorities in migration management and contains for example the legislative framework of Passenger Name Records (PNR) and Advanced Passenger Information (API). In addition, the overview contains relevant information on the guidelines and handbooks for the practices of border guards and automated systems for border checks. The overview also contributes with relevant international standards on biometric technologies and automated systems for border control. 

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4 Fundamental rights and border control

New technologies for border control must be designed, made, and implemented in respect of the fundamental rights of the persons affected by the technology. Technologies made under the framework of the EU Smartborder bears the risk of breaching fundamental rights such as human dignity, respect for private and family life, right to protection of personal data and non-discrimination. The aspect of fundamental rights is especially important considering the respect of the numbers of persons affected by the implementation of the technology, the type of information that is processed, the means used to process that type of information as well as the purposes of the data collection. In the following sub-sections you will find the legislative framework on fundamental rights as well as some explanatory literature that illustrates the ways in which new technologies can or have violated the fundamental rights of travellers. The examples illustrate for example cases of racial and ethnical discrimination and how persons with disabilities tend to be excluded from the use of automated border control-solutions.

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5 Privacy law and data protection law

The task of controlling the external border of the European Union is characterised by its dual object of facilitating border check procedures for the majority of the travellers crossing the border, and at the same time stop those who pose a threat to the security of the Union by being or having the potential of becoming an irregular immigrant, as well as criminals and terrorists. The overlap of these goals has for example led to a growing reliance on interoperability between different large-scale databases as well as information exchange between different authorities relevant for the migration management context. This development can have negative impacts on fundamental rights in general, but data protection and privacy in particular. In the following sub-sections you will find the relevant legislations on data protection and privacy such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Law Enforcement Directive (LED). In addition, explanatory literature follows that both explains the legislative framework in detail and illustrates with concrete examples how new technologies poses risks to the data protection and privacy of the people affected.

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6 Ethics of border control technologies and biometrics

The Greek word “ethos” means “character” and refers to the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterise a community, nation, or ideology. The technologization of the external borders of the European Union that have been developing for the last 15 years has shaped and changed the character of the ways in which border checks are performed. Smarter and automated measures based on biometric technology, such as facial recognition, have played an important role in this respect. It is therefore important to examine the ethical impacts of this transformation of the border control procedures, and especially in regard of transparency and the democratic governance of personal data. In the following section you will find ethical guidelines for the making and development of new technologies for border management. Such guidelines are important at all steps of the process, from the laboratories to the border, and they are fundamental to ensuring the protection of traveller’s rights, for example regarding autonomy and dignity. In the case of border management and biometrics, this does for instance mean that an individual should not be reduced to a number based on a measurement of a bodily attribute or behaviour, but that his or her personal story also must be taken into account in order to protect the individual’s human dignity.

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7 Societal acceptance of technology

New technologies implemented in the border management context changes and shapes the character of border control procedures simultaneously as this impacts the human experience of crossing the border. How travellers experience these new solutions is important for the success of the implementation. The societal acceptance of new technologies for border control is therefore important for the performance of the technology, and should therefore be taken into consideration by designers, engineers and decision-makers. One aspect of societal acceptance is related to the technology’s applicability with laws and regulations and that they follow ethical principles and values. A second aspect of societal acceptance is the perceived and experienced usefulness and ease of use of the technology. Assessing this aspect of the technology might reveal the positive or negative feelings and emotions that travellers might experience when they are required to perform a specific task with a specific behaviour in order to cross the border. To assess the societal acceptance of a new technology, it is necessary to engage and involve the public and this can for instance be done through questionnaires. In the following section you will find literature on both what societal acceptance is, why it is an important element of the implementation process as well as how societal acceptance can be measured.

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Suggestions for further literature would be most welcome. Please send your suggestion(s) to
This literature guide was developed by Emilie Hermansen (PRIO).