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Oscar Williams

News editor

The EU wants to give police direct access to tech firms’ servers

Privacy campaigners have called into question EU plans to give law enforcement agencies direct access to tech firms’ servers.

The measure is the most intrusive of three options proposed to speed up the sharing of data in the wake of terror attacks.

At present, forces must ask local law enforcement agencies to retrieve data from company servers, but critics say the system is too slow.

While the Open Rights Group’s executive director Jim Killock told New Statesman Tech he welcomed efforts to improve the process, he added:

“Requests for data should go through a judicial process to ensure that there is proper authorisation and oversight.

“We also need to be wary of ‘extraordinary measures’ which have a tendency to become the norm. The much criticised European Arrest Warrant was created following the 9/11 attacks, and reforming it is proving very difficult.”

The EU’s Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova has proposed three options for expediting data transfers:

  • Allowing police in one EU state to directly ask a firm in another state for data without consulting the state’s authorities
  • Forcing tech firms to share data with any force, regardless of where within the EU they reside
  • Giving forces direct access to servers so they can retrieve and copy data themselves

Ms Jourova said the proposals would inform future legislation.

“I am sure that now in the shadow of the recent terrorist attacks and increasing threats in Europe there will be more understanding among the ministers, even among those who come from countries where there has not been a terrorist attack,” she told Reuters.

Tags: EU
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