The new Europol decree improves criminal investigation opportunities also in Finland

Publication date 15.7.2022 8.49
News item

The analysing period of personal data will become significantly longer based on a new Europol decree that came into force in the end of June. The new decree will prolong Europol’s analysing period of personal data significantly compared to the previous decree. 

Based on the previous decree, Europol was allowed to analyse the personal data of people whose role in a criminal case was not determined only up to six months. Now, Europol will have the right to analyse such data for up to 18 months or even three years, and always at least as long as the preliminary investigation takes. 

Assistant Police Commissioner Hannu Kautto from the National Police Board of Finland’s unit of International Affairs considers this a significant change for the police.

“This change is a major advantage in cases where people need to be screened from large quantities of data. The change will improve Europol’s chances of supporting its member states in the prevention and investigation of serious international crimes,” he says.

Europol is an important supporter in investigating extensive criminal cases

According to Kautto, Europol’s support is highly important to Finland in investigation of cases dealing with extensive international organised crime. 

From the Finnish perspective, the operations Green Light (Anom) and Limit (SKY ECC) were in the centre of Europol’s operational activities in 2021. 

“Both operations deal with encrypted messaging platforms the contents of which law enforcement authorities have been able to acquire. Based on the information received, solving these cases has had a major effect on the availability of amphetamine in Finland,” Kautto says.

More effective cooperation

Another key aspect of the new decree was the right to process data for research and innovation purposes. The background for this policy was the observation that it is impossible to create synthetic personal data that would allow the development of analysis tools, for example. 

Third of the most central changes was to facilitate and improve cooperation with private parties further. The biggest problem in this area have been the transnational internet service providers and similar operators who may possess large amounts of data related to criminal activities but may not necessarily know which country's authorities should receive this data. The renewal will allow for Europol to accept these data to review to which country it should be delivered for investigation.

Additionally, the revised decree will establish a new fundamental rights official’s position with Europol to ensure that fundamental rights are realised in all Europol operations.  

The duty of Europol, i.e. the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, is to assist the law enforcement authorities of EU countries in the prevention of serious international crime and terrorism.

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