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Europol on defensive as concerns raised over ‘illegal’ Big Data tactics

Posted on Feb 2, 2021
Europol on defensive as concerns raised over ‘illegal’ Big Data tactics

Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, has defended its record in using large datasets for criminal investigations while putting forward an ‘action plan’, seen by EURACTIV, to appease concerns raised over the agency’s ‘illegal’ data use by the EU’s data protection watchdog.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) slammed Europol in September after a probe had unearthed evidence of national law enforcement agencies increasingly transmitting ‘large datasets’ to Europol, as opposed to ‘targeted data’ proportionate to specific criminal investigations, thereby breaching standards set out in the 2016 Europol Regulation.

Moreover, the EDPS had found that as part of the processing of such large datasets, the personal data of individuals who were not in any way connected to criminal activities was also going through Europol’s system.

In response to September’s findings, the EDPS tasked Europol with devising an ‘action plan’ to mitigate some of the data protection concerns.

In the action plan, obtained by EURACTIV, Europol calls for the Commission’s revision of the 2016 Europol Regulation, which lays down strict standards in terms of the agency’s data use, to be revised so as to allow the agency to continue its work.

Some lawmakers in the European Parliament believe that Europol’s efforts are not sufficient. Leftist MEP Clare Bury told EURACTIV that she had concerns over the direction of Europol’s emphasis on relying on large, complex datasets in investigations.

“More and more, Europol appears to be determined to pursue a data-driven policing model, crunching huge amounts of data to produce, as they say, ‘operational, strategic or thematic’ analyses,” she said.

In December last year, it transpired that Europol had launched an ‘innovative decryption platform’, developed alongside the Commission’s Joint Research Centre. The aim of the project is to allow EU national law enforcement authorities to decrypt information lawfully obtained in criminal investigations.

On Monday, Wiewiórowski revealed that the EDPS had pressed Europol to provide more information “on the development and deployment of the new decryption platform,” to which Europol last week issued a dossier on the plans.

Full article on https://www.euractiv.com/section/digital/news/europol-on-defensive-as-concerns-raised-over-illegal-big-data-tactics/

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