The EU’s police agency, Europol, will be forced to delete much of a vast store of personal data that it has been found to have amassed unlawfully by the bloc’s data protection watchdog. The unprecedented finding from the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) targets what privacy experts are calling a “big data ark” containing billions of points of information. Sensitive data in the ark has been drawn from crime reports, hacked from encrypted phone services and sampled from asylum seekers never involved in any crime.
Sometimes we need to be reminded that authorities illegally amassing huge troves of data on unsuspecting and innocent people is not something that only happens in the US. But it is also worth noticing how in EU we at least have institutions that are trying curb these blind mass surveillance tendencies. If that fight will have measurable effects in the long run is something that we can’t foresee.
So what happens with regards to fines now. The EU’s own GDPR law say they can issue fines of up to “€10 million, or 2% of the firm’s worldwide annual revenue”.
Are we going to see Europol hit with any kind of action other than just a slap on the wrist and told to delete it?
If anyone else decided it wanted to not only store, but to set out to gather personal data illegally, there would be a lot of fines being handed out by the EU.
I wondered when someone was going to pick up on this news. European lawyers and others with positions on governance are all over this like a rash. I’m actually quite disappointed Europol’s head, Catherine de Bolle, has pushed the arguments she has. It’s the kind of feature creep and desire for more powers nonsense you expect from the US’s FBI. I’m really not sure her position is tenable when weighed against the EU commissions stance on data privacy and abuse of safe harbour. The EU Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, puts her to shame.
The Guardian isn’t always the best source of news. They can be questionable on equality and human rights, and their reputation on security issues is much more overblown than they deserve. A large part of the Guardian’s reporting on this has been lifted from other sources. I know because I read them first!