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Europol boosts electronic surveillance

Ok to unlock data from platforms and training with artificial intelligence

Brussels approved the reform of Europol, the European police agency, significantly expanding its powers. It was decided in recent hours by the interior ministers of member countries, meeting at the Council of the European Union. Now law enforcement agencies will have the power to request citizens' data from private companies, especially Internet platforms, even about people who are not suspected or convicted. 

This is a breakthrough that alarms those who protect privacy. Previously, only information provided by law enforcement and other public authorities and about certain categories of individuals could be tapped. Moreover, the reform comes just four months after the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) ordered Europol to delete information on innocent citizens from its databases after 24 months.

"The reform promotes a dangerous model of police surveillance in which massive data collection and predictive tools seem destined to become the standard. Even the data of those who are totally innocent and have nothing to hide may end up at Europol. And once you get into the system, there's no getting out", said Chlóe Bérthélemy, security analyst at European Digital Rights (Edri).

The reform will take effect in June 2022. The European Data Supervisor told the Spanish newspaper "El Pais" that they will act "once the regulation comes into force". Among the nodes of concern is the fact that Europol will be able to use the information to train artificial intelligence algorithms to develop "tools to fight crime". 

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