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Home >> Resources >> External publications >> Preventing unlawful profiling today and in the future: a guide

Preventing unlawful profiling today and in the future: a guide

December 14th 2018

This newly published guide of the FRA explains what profiling is, the legal frameworks that regulate it, and why conducting profiling lawfully is both necessary to comply with fundamental rights and crucial for effective policing and border management. The guide also provides practical guidance on how to avoid unlawful profiling in police and border management operations.

Profiling practices raises a number of fundamental rights concerns and risks violating well-established legal principles including equality and non-discrimination, and the rights to respect for private life and data protection. In response to these concerns, the FRA published the guide ’’Towards more effective policing, Understanding and preventing discriminatory ethnic profiling’’, in 2010.


Since then, technological developments have changed the nature of profiling considerably. Much profiling is now based on the results of computer analysis of large data sets. On the legal side, the reformed – stricter – data protection rules applying across the EU from May 2018 set new standards for the collection, analysis and use of personal data.

This updated guide takes account of these significant changes to build on and expand the 2010 guide to reflect the new legal and practical realities. It takes a more
comprehensive approach to unlawful profiling by incorporating:

  • Profiling in the context of border management;
  • Discriminatory profiling on all grounds, including nationality, age and gender, in addition to ethnic origin; and
  • Algorithmic, or computer-based, profiling.

This 2018 version also contains new examples and case studies to reflect developments and innovations concerning profiling. Read the report here.