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Plenary vote on Europol upgrade: legalization of illegal activities is a scandal

Today, Members of the European Parliament voted on revising Europol’s mandate and upgrading the EU police agency. The adoption of the report will give the agency expanded powers without independent oversight. Despite serious concerns from civil society and a rebuke from the European Data Protection Supervisor last year, Europol is to be allowed to collect and analyse massive amounts of data on unsuspected individuals, such as cell phone movement data and air travel data.

As a substitute member of Europol’s supervisory body JPSG, MEP Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party) states:

“I am voting today against the reform which aims to legalize Europol’s illegal activities instead of stopping them: According to the findings of the European Data Protection Supervisor, Europol has been illegally storing masses of data transmitted by national intervention authorities on millions of unsuspected individuals for years. We are talking about large amounts of data (mobile phone location data, passenger lists) of people who are in no way connected to criminal activities. In consequence innocent citizens run the risk of being wrongfully suspected of a crime just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The planned cooperation of Europol with private companies (such as Google and Microsoft), which unjustly report millions of people as part of pan-european message screening and chat control, is also unacceptable. The fact that Europol even wants to train error-prone algorithms with real citizens’ data in the future, threatens us with false positives and discrimination.

Police cooperation in Europe is of crucial importance. For this to happen, however, Europol must be effectively monitored and prevented from violating the law. The supervisory mechanisms, which have been superficial so far, have not been given the necessary teeth to detect and stop illegal practices by the authority. As a member of the supervisory body, I still have no right to look into Europol’s activity.”

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