EU data protection supervisor takes legal action against Europol

1 day ago

Image: © Tobias Arhelger/Stock.adobe.com

The EDPS has called on Europe’s top court to annul amendments that could allow Europol to ‘move the goalposts’ in data privacy and protection.

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has taken legal action in the EU’s top court against Europol for amendments that could allow the law enforcement agency to bypass data protection rules.

In a request to the Court of Justice of the European Union last week, the EDPS called for the annulment of two provisions in newly amended Europol regulations that retroactively legalise its ability to store large amounts of personal data relating to people with no links to criminal activity.

The data protection body for all EU institutions, bodies and agencies argues that the two provisions “seriously undermine legal certainty for individuals’ personal data and threaten the independence of the EDPS”.

“This type of personal data processing is something that the EDPS found to be in breach of the Europol Regulation, which it made clear in its order requesting Europol to delete concerned datasets within a predefined and clear time limit,” the EDPS said in a press release yesterday (22 September).

The amended Europol Regulation came into force on 28 June. Prior to that, Europol was required to check within six months whether personal data it collected was linked to criminal activity – or else delete it.

Wojciech Wiewiórowski, head of the EDPS, said that the new provisions “retroactively deprive” individuals of the safeguards that the EDPS enforced.

He said that legal action had two motivations: to “protect legal certainty for individuals in the highly sensitive field of law enforcement” and to make sure that the EU legislator “cannot unduly ‘move the goalposts’ in the area of privacy and data protection”.

Some EU lawmakers, such as the German Pirate Party representative Patrick Breyer, have backed the EDPS move.

“It’s true that police cooperation in Europe is of vital importance, but it needs to respect the rule of law,” he said. “Due to these vast data pools, millions of innocent citizens risk being wrongfully suspected of a crime just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com