European Commission wants to simplify evidence collection from tech companies

The European Commission wants to make it easier for investigative authorities to collect digital evidence and data from tech companies in other Member States to fight terror and crime.

Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova told Reuters that three different options are being considered that will guide the future bill. This proposal will have to speed up the collection of data and evidence in other Member States. The bill is expected to be presented at the end of 2018.

The first, least far-reaching option that is being considered, is that an investigation authority from one Member State can directly ask an Internet provider in another Member State to hand over certain data, without having to submit a formal request to the Member State where the Internet provider is established. .

The second option is similar to the first, but then there is no longer a request and voluntary, and the internet provider is obliged to share data with a request from another Member State. This option is being considered partly because the first option is still seen by some as too slow and time-consuming.

The third option involves creating the possibility for investigative authorities to directly copy data that is stored in the cloud in another Member State. This means that the intervention of a provider or approval from authorities in the Member State is no longer required. According to the Commission, privacy interests will be kept in mind and new safeguards to protect privacy should be introduced in this scenario.

Jourova wants to prevent authorities from collecting data without restrictions for possible use in the future via the third option. She sees this third option primarily as a possibility that should only be used in emergencies, in the case of serious crime and terrorism.

It is not yet clear which types of data will fall within the scope of the future bill. This may concern metadata and location data, but also personal data and the content of communication between citizens and businesses. It is also still unclear exactly which companies can be approached to provide data; Internet and telecom providers are likely to fall under the future legal regime, but probably also large tech companies such as Facebook and Google.