The Stack Archive News Article

EU may give police direct access to cloud data

Thu 8 Jun 2017

EU Justice Ministers are due to meet to discuss three different proposals, set forth by the EU Commission, to make it easier for law enforcement officials to retrieve digital data which may be stored on servers in a different country.

Currently, obtaining information that is stored in a different member state is a long and arduous process requiring involvement from law enforcement, corporate legal representatives and permissions from the various governments of involved countries.

The Commission has created three different proposals which would help to formalize the process and speed up the transfer of data from companies like Google, Apple, or Facebook.

The proposal of most concern to digital privacy advocates is the option that would allow police direct access to information stored in the cloud. This would be used in situations where the server hosting the data in question is unknown, or if there is a risk that the data could be lost if not accessed immediately.

Vera Jourova, EU Justice Commissioner said that allowing police access to cloud data “is a kind of emergency possibility which will require some additional safeguards protecting the privacy of people.”

“You simply cannot massively collect some digital data for… future use.”

Other options under consideration would either require companies to turn data over to foreign law enforcement agencies upon request or would eliminate the need for an agency to ask the member state for permission prior to requesting a company to release data.

Streamlining the process by which police may access data is of particular concern to the EU in the wake of recent terror attacks and heightened security measures in Europe and abroad.

The ministers will also discuss the types of data that would be covered by the new regulations. Personal communications may be determined to fall under a different procedure than traffic or location data. The group will also discuss measures that may be taken to ensure that requests for data release are valid and appropriate to various situations.

The proposals will form the basis for a future legislative proposal, which could be heard as soon as 2018.

A related regulation, the EU Data Protection Reform, defines the restrictions and individual rights with regards to the privacy of digital data must be put into law by EU member states in May 2018.

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