The European Police Office (Europol) will have to delete all data that contains information about people without confirmed links to crimes. This was ordered to the police authority by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), according to which Europol wrongly holds the data and thus infringes on the privacy of citizens.
An investigation into the ownership of this data began in 2019, when the Office reprimanded Europol for “continuing to store large volumes of data”, which, according to the EDPS, poses a threat to the fundamental rights of individuals.
This is virtually all data obtained by Europol during past or current investigations. It stores everything, including information about people – their identity, address, transcripts of phone calls, etc. – who eventually proved innocent. It is this data that he must now delete, and he received an order from the EDPS on 3 January.
An increasing image with the “evil” NSA
The Guardian reports that the case concerns about 4 petabytes of data, the equivalent of hundreds of billions of printed pages. The records contain information on almost 250,000 people, mostly those who were investigated on suspicion of terror or another serious crime.
Even Europol itself would not be able to collect so much data, in reality it is a set of all the information that individual European national governments have provided to the police in recent years. The result is such a huge database that critics say the office is set to become a European equivalent of the criticized US National Security Agency (NSA), which is renowned for its invasive surveillance of citizens.
The EDPS acknowledged that Europol had made some improvements since the launch of the investigation two years ago, but as a result he kept the data longer than he had to, so they will have to go away, all data older than 6 months. The police received one year from the supervisory authority to sort out what was important and what was not.