The ETIAS rule is the focus of several debates. The reasons for refusal (security and illegal immigration, significant pandemic risks) are not very clearly defined in the regulation.
Of the three reasons for denial, the Regulation defines a “public health risk” the most precisely. The International Health Regulations (World Health Organisation) classification of illnesses having epidemic potential, as stated in the Schengen Borders Code, is particularly referred to in the ETIAS rule. The public’s health may be at risk from these illnesses. The ETIAS Regulation states that these illnesses pose a danger to the public’s health.
This reference and explanation, however, have not been provided for the two other groups. It is particularly challenging to defend a refusal of entry on the grounds of an illegal immigration danger.
The secondary purpose of the ETIAS visa screening guidelines was to detect visa-exempt travellers who could be a hazard to public safety, irregular migration, or an epidemic. The method of profiling involves comparing the application file’s data with the risk indicators from the ETIAS Central Unit using an algorithm. The risk indicators will be further explained by the ETIAS Central Unit shortly. They include details on an individual’s age and sex, gender, nationality, place of residence, degree of education, and line of work.
Legal and ethical issues come up because of the possible repercussions of this kind of profiling on people, such denial of travel authorisation. One such entity that has voiced concerns about the generalisation and ambiguity around the precision and correctness of projected behaviour is the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). Additionally, it cautions against using profile to associate certain traits with a collection of risk factors. Concerns of interference with basic rights under the EU Charger were also voiced by the EDPS.
A recent incident in which the Netherlands issued visas to individuals engaged in criminal activity mistakenly highlights the risks associated with relying too much on automated processing and algorithms. This resulted from a software update problem. It was found by manual follow-up.