Tuesday

27th Jun 2017

EU data chief urges limits on joint police powers

  • Hustinx will oversee data rule compliance at the EU police agency (Photo: Asteris Masouras)

The EU's data privacy chief wants tough new limits imposed on EU police agency Europol.

"A strong framework of data protection is important not only for those under suspicion or involved in an investigation, but also contributes to the success of police and judicial co-operation," Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), said in a statement on Monday (3 June).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Hustinx says Europol should only collect personal information for specific investigations.

He says the data should not be used for other purposes aside from the reasons it was collected in the first place.

The Hague-based police agency co-ordinates national forces' investigations by pooling data sets from different authorities and then sharing them with the relevant national investigators.

In March, the European Commission put forward proposals to boost Europol's powers.

But Hustinx voiced concerns over some of the proposals, such as cross-referencing information stored in different databases to check if someone is suspected of more than one crime.

“The increased flexibility to cross check information should be balanced, for example, by specifying the purpose and in general by keeping a high level of data protection,” he said.

The police agency also has operational agreements with the US, Australia, Canada and Interpol and around a dozen other non-EU countries.

It is now in the process of concluding bilateral agreements with Brazil, Mexico, Georgia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Under the commission’s proposal, the EDPS' role at Europol will also be upgraded to ensure the agency adheres to EU rules on data protection.

The commission in a memo in December called upon member states to share more national data with the police agency as it attempts to better co-ordinate crime stopping investigations.

Existing arrangements, it noted, did not warrant new EU-level law enforcement databases or other types of EU information exchange.

Some of those arrangements include the now two-year-behind-schedule "Prum" decision, which mandates the networking of national fingerprint, DNA and vehicle registration databases.

Hustinx said there is a logical emphasis on information exchange in the absence of a European police force, but warned it must not come at the expense of fundamental rights on privacy.

Meanwhile, EU officials remain silent over concerns that US law enforcement will be able to snoop on EU citizens' data stored on US Cloud providers such as Amazon or Google.

One official told this website on Monday that EU interior ministers have yet to discuss the issue in the context of the draft data protection regulation currently under legislative review.

New provisions in the heavily-lobbied data bill include a line on binding corporate rules for companies that process data on the Cloud.

The rules outline standards and practices in a corporate entity and its subsidiaries on how to handle personal data transmitted into and from countries with a sub-par level of data protection rules.

The regulation would require Cloud providers to hire a private-sector audit company to certify the generic Cloud system for security.

Industry has welcomed the ideas as a means to build trust in the "free flow."

But a handful of privacy specialists say it is riddled with loopholes that make it impossible to enforce.

A European Parliament report out last year says it will enable US authorities by way of the amended Foreign Intelligence Amendments Act (FISA) to conduct political surveillance on foreigners' data accessible in US Cloud providers.

US authorities have denied the claims.

The commission, for its part, has yet to issue an official comment to or take a position.

“Reconfirming that we still have no comment on this,” EU spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told this website by email in mid-May.

US free to grab EU data on American clouds

An obscure section in a US law is said to entitle authorities to access, without a warrant, data stored by any EU citizen on clouds run by American companies.

Lawyers shortlisted for EU data chief post

Two French corporate lawyers working for American firms and a high-ranking EU official are vying to replace Peter Hustinx as the next European data protection supervisor.

Border management going virtual

EU leaders at a summit in Brussels are set to endorse new border control measures, while the head of a Tallinn-based EU agency predicts a future where border management goes virtual.

Interview

EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

Opinion

Why Schengen deserves to be saved

Far-right parties around Europe have managed to turn the passport-free Schengen area into a game of political hot potato despite its numerous benefits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  3. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  4. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  5. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  6. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  7. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  8. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  9. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  10. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  11. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  12. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?