What is the Schengen Information System (SIS)?
The SIS is a Europe-wide database for alerting wanted or missing persons or objects. It is used, for example, to deny entry or residence in the Schengen area, search for persons based on criminal offences, search for missing persons, or seize objects from criminal proceedings. The SIS is thus an essential instrument for police cooperation in Europe.
The second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) has been in operation since 2013. Thirty states are involved in this search database, including the member states of the EU (except Cyprus) and the associated Schengen states Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. After Brexit, Great Britain is no longer an EU member state or Schengen state and thus no longer has access to SIS II.
Authorities entitled to access are national law enforcement, judicial, and certain administrative authorities. In addition, EUROPOL and EUROJUST also have limited access to the SIS. However, access is only possible to data required to fulfil the respective authority´s tasks.
Each Member State has a national central office called SIRENE, responsible for the national and international exchange of information on wanted persons entered in the SIS. The SIRENE office is in Wiesbaden’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Germany.
Who or what is the subject of an alert in the Schengen Information System (SIS)?
An alert is the entry of a person or object in the SIS database to initiate an international search. The requesting state makes the entry. This enables the countries with access to the SIS to take measures about the person or object concerned. Accordingly, information on identifying a person or object is included and information on the steps to be taken.
Alerts are issued for arrest in the case of an arrest warrant, refusal of entry or residence of third-country nationals in the Schengen area, or to trace the whereabouts of, e.g., missing persons, witnesses, or victims. In addition, stolen or lost property is reported for seizure or confiscation.
For the search for persons, the first name and surname, if applicable aliases and gender are always entered, as well as information on the decisions on which the alert is based and the measures to be taken. If available, fingerprints and photographs may also be entered.
Persons are included irrespective of their nationality so that both citizens of the state participating in the SIS and citizens of other states can be included.
Right to Information: SIS in Germany
Every person has the right to know what data about them is stored in the SIS. In addition, there is a right to review the lawfulness of their storage. The right to information of private individuals is based on Article 58 of the SIS II Decision (2007/533/JHA) and Article 41 of the SIS II Regulation ((EC) No. 1987/2006) in conjunction with Article 57 of the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG). Accordingly, however, no information will be provided if this is indispensable for the performance of a lawful task in connection with the entry or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of third parties (Art. 58 para. 4 SIS II Decision, Art. 41 para. 4 SIS II Regulation).
To obtain information, you can contact the competent national authority in each state where the SIS is operated. This applies regardless of which state issued the alert, as all national databases are identical to the central system database. In most cases, the national data protection authority or the SIRENE Bureau is responsible. In Germany, you should contact the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI) or the SIRENE Bureau located at the BKA.
If the application for information is rejected, you can appeal against this decision. If this is also denied, you can consider filing a complaint with a competent administrative court. Even if there is no reply to the request for information within 60 days, an action for information can be brought before the administrative court.
A hand-signed, informal request for information and a legible copy of a current official identification document is sufficient for the application. If you need legal assistance in connection with your request for information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our lawyers.
Under what conditions is there a right to have an alert deleted from the SIS in Germany?
A right to the deletion of an alert in the SIS exists if the data concerned have been stored unlawfully (Art. 58 para. 5 Alt. 2 SIS II Decision and Art. 41 para 5 Alt. 2 SIS II Regulation). There is a right to rectification in the vent that the personal information is incorrect. Any claim is directed against the body issuing the alert, i.e. the authority is responsible for deleting or correcting the data.
§ 58 (2) of the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG) specifies the right to deletion. According to this, you have the right to demand that the person responsible immediately delete your data if its processing is unlawful, knowledge of it is no longer necessary for the fulfilment of the task, or it must be deleted to comply with a legal obligation. The storage of data is unlawful if there is no corresponding legal authorisation. To assess whether the use of information is illegal and thus a claim for deletion exists, the point in time of the decision is decisive. Therefore, it is sufficient that the storage or processing only became unlawful during the time. If it has been unlawful from the beginning is not essential. You will receive a careful legal examination of your case and individual legal advice from our lawyers to best prepare your erasure request.
Under certain circumstances, instead of deleting the data, only a restriction of its processing under § 58 (3) BDSG will occur if, for example, the deletion would impair interests worthy of protecting a data subject. In the event of a decision not to delete data or restrict processing instead of deletion, the data subject must always be informed of this in writing and be given reasons for the decision.
How do you Effect an Erasure?
If you suspect that personal data has been entered unlawfully in the SIS II, you should first request information about it. The authority issuing the alert is responsible for correcting or deleting it. If you do not know the authority issuing the alert, you can also obtain information about it from the BKA.
The deletion request should be substantiated and contain all relevant information supporting your justification for a claim for deletion. Our lawyers will be happy to assist you in formulating your request and, in particular, the argumentative reason. There are no special formal requirements, but a copy of your valid official identification document should be enclosed for identification purposes. In principle, the application will be processed free of charge (§ 59 (3) sentence 1 BDSG).
The applicant must be informed of the measures taken by the competent authority no later than three months after the application has been submitted (Art. 58 para. 7 SIS II Decision, Art. 41 para. 7 SIS II Regulation). Here, too, an appeal may be lodged against a rejection of the application. If necessary, it might be required to pursue a claim for deletion with the general action for performance. To obtain relief as quickly as possible, provisional cancellation may be considered by way of interim relief. This can be sought by applying under § 123 VwGO. If necessary, our experienced lawyers will also represent you in court to enforce your claim.