1. The iBorderCtrl system went through a test-phase and was not used to perform border checks on real travellers

iBorderCtrl is a research project, researching and developing new technologies. As the system is a research prototype, it cannot be used for actual border checks.

However, the system needed to be tested to validate whether the developed technologies are functioning properly. To achieve this, test pilots were performed. To simulate real conditions, parts of these took place at selected border crossing points. Consequently, the test pilots were a fully encapsulated (laboratory-test) process, to avoid any potential real consequences for participants. In this regard, it should also be emphasized that the iBorderCtrl system was not linked with any law enforcement databases or live systems.

2. The system was tested only at selected border crossing points of the EU

The test pilots were conducted at selected border crossing points in Hungary and Latvia, as well as in iBorderCtrl consortiums’ premises in Greece. As outlined above, the reason for parts of the pilots taking place at border crossing points was to simulate real conditions in various scenarios, while the test pilots were fully encapsulated from actual border checks. Therefore, the iBorderCtrl pilot tests should not be confused with a large-scale test with millions of travellers.

3. Fundamental rights of participants might have been affected, but safeguards ensured they were not

It was recognized that also a test pilot can have an impact on the fundamental rights of test participants. However, as outlined above, the test pilots were encapsulated from other proceedings at the border crossing points; issues with respect to discrimination, human dignity, etc. therefore could not occur for members of the public. However, also the test participants were protected by the iBorderCtrl ethics framework. In order to protect the right to privacy, participants were asked to provide their informed consent prior to participating in the test pilots. Before doing so, they were informed about both the data processing and their rights as data subjects. Participants could also withdraw from the test pilot at any time and ask for their data to be deleted. Moreover, data collected in the test pilots was not shared with any 3rd parties (i.e. law enforcement agencies) and was deleted or anonymised after the project testing phase concluded in August 2019.

With regard to a possible discrimination of research participants through the system, it has to be noted that a validation also serves the purpose of detecting malfunctions (including inadvertent bias) of the system. However, as the sole purpose of the pilots was to detect such issues, and the data was not used for any other purpose, no real-life disadvantages arose for participants.

4. The system might not be mature enough to be used at the border, but that is the reason for doing research

iBorderCtrl is a research project, and not about product development. Therefore, the core task of the project was to research and improve technology, as well as to evaluate its benefit for society and its impact on privacy and fundamental rights of individuals.

Also, the technology was not applied for border checks, but only for testing purposes as explained in 1. above. It should not be forgotten that iBorderCtrl is a research project, and not about product development. Therefore, the core task of the project was to research and improve technology, as well as to evaluate its benefit for society and its impact on privacy and fundamental.

5. The EU might in the future use the system at the border - if they decide to do so

As of now, iBorderCtrl is only a research project funded by the EU under the H2020 programme. How far the system, or parts of it, will be used at the border in the future is unclear. It should be also noted that some technologies are not covered by the existing legal framework, meaning that they could not be implemented without a political decision establishing a legal basis (including all proper safeguards to protect human rights) first.

6. Artificial Intelligence-based systems may be implemented at the border - if they offer benefits

The capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the huge potentials it offers are subject to intensive research, not only in iBorderCtrl, but across the whole academic world and various disciplines. The iBorderCtrl consortium believes that AI will greatly shape the future, not only in border checks, but in general. Consequently, it is important to accumulate knowledge on the advantages and disadvantages of the technology, and have an open debate on the issues as the basis for an informed democratic decision of society at large. This will help to ensure that such a system will only be used at the border if it provides fairer and better results than the current system, solely relying on human beings. For instance, an AI-based system with high accuracy might prove to decrease the risk of discrimination and other fundamental rights issues if designed and implemented properly. Examining the strength and weaknesses of such system is part of the iBorderCtrl project.