EU Predictive Profiling

These are discussions in EU parliament that describe issues of profiling predicting a possibility of innocent people being put under microscope of repressive measures. It’s not so much about terrorism, muslims or islam – it’s about a crime too, where having enough boxes marked next to a person’s profile will mark you as person of interest and possible affects it might have on that person; not to mention the motivation of secret services of “creating appearance” of a threat by manufacturing cases, to justify huge monetary and humanitarian resources allocated to fight undefinable terrorism, dangers of radicalism, organized crime, drugs, etc. If those in power do not know what are they looking for except the constant cult like babbling about how a threat exists – it’s surely will cause weird analytical misnomers. Problem is not about making mistakes, problem is about the reasons of why mistakes are not viewed as the source of possible learning experience, instead the denying any wrongdoing seems priority.

Sarah Ludford, rapporteur. (− Madam President, over the past decade, laws and practices have been introduced enabling the retention and exchange of huge volumes of personal data. Currently the EU itself is proposing a number of measures that facilitate profiling, a technique of pulling together data from various sources in order to make a sort of template against which are identified those people whose characteristics, behaviour or associates seem suspicious and who merit further screening as likely perpetrators of crime or terrorism. There has also been a move in policing towards a predictive and preventive approach which, while not without value in some circumstances, can lead to repressive measures against innocent people based on stereotyping, often on the basis of race or even religion. The reason I am concerned about profiling and data-mining is because they depart from the general rule that law-enforcement decisions should be based on an individual’s personal conduct. The danger exists that an innocent person may be subject to arbitrary stops, interrogations or travel disruption. Then, if that flagging of them as a person of interest is not promptly removed, longer-term restrictions could follow, such as refusal of visas and entry, bans on employment or even arrest and detention.

N. Whereas ‘predictive profiling’ (, using broad profiles developed through cross-referencing between databases and reflecting untested generalisations or patterns of behaviour judged likely to indicate the commission of some future or as-yet-undiscovered crime or terrorist act raises strong privacy concerns and may constitute an interference with the rights to respect for private life under Article 8 of the ECHR and Article 7 of the Charter(29);

P.  Whereas the ECtHR’s above-mentioned finding in S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom, of a ‘risk of stigmatisation’ from the fact that persons not convicted of any offence are treated in the same way as convicted criminals in the UK DNA database must also raise questions about the legality of profiling operations based on processing of personal data of persons not found guilty by the courts(31);

T.  Whereas the inverse problem is the possibility of missing perpetrators who do not fit the profile, an example being the ringleader of the 7 July 2005 London bombings who “had come to the attention of the intelligence services as an associate of other men who were suspected of involvement in a terrorist bomb plot…but …was not pursued because he did not tick enough of the boxes in the pre-July 2005 profile of the terror suspect”(34);


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