Brussels to give EU Judges the Power to Seize non-encrypted emails and text messages from Tech Company Servers
In late February Patently Apple posted a report titled "After China, the EU is now working on a Law that could Force Companies like Apple to give up Customer Data on Demand." The report stated that the European Union was preparing legislation to force companies to turn over customers' personal data when requested even if it's stored on servers outside the bloc, a position that would put Europe at loggerheads with tech giants and privacy campaigners. The report further noted that the proposed law would apply to the personal data of people of all nationalities, not just EU citizens, as long as they were linked to a European investigation.
Today the Financial Times (FT) is reporting that "Brussels is planning to give judges the power to seize emails and text messages of terror suspects contained in servers in other countries, under plans that will force tech companies to hand over sensitive information quickly to prosecutors in cases of serious crime.
The European Commission on Tuesday will propose giving national judges the extraterritorial power to order companies to hand over 'e-evidence' held in servers in another EU country or outside of the bloc. The warrants would be used for investigations into terror offenses and other serious crimes.
Under the new EU law, tech companies would be expected to hand over the information within 10 days of receiving a warrant, known as a "European Production Order," with this time period shortened to as little as six hours "in emergency cases," according to a copy of the plans seen by the FT.
Tech companies would not be able to refuse to hand over information simply because it is stored outside of the EU, although procedures would exist for them to challenge access requests — for example, if they had concerns that the move would violate data protection laws in the country where the server is based.
Vera Jourova, the EU's justice commissioner, told the FT that "securing evidence stored online always is a race against time," sometimes taking as much as 10 months. "We need to make sure law enforcement gets up to speed with the digital age," she said.
The officials also argued that the powers would mimic similar rights magistrates already possess for gathering more traditional forms of evidence. The plans only cover the gathering of existing evidence, not wiretapping, and do not address what to do about encrypted messaging services." Say what?
Today, terrorists and other criminals use encrypted apps like 'Telegram' on smartphones like the iPhone that use end-to-end encryption. So the EU's big threat being announced tomorrow will apparently be toothless unless the Financial Times got that part of the story wrong.
Last Friday Patently Apple posted a report about Russia blocking the Telegram app. Unless there's some bite to the new EU law not seen at present dealing with encrypted messages, criminals will just laugh it off and continue with their evil deeds unencumbered.
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