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The UK illegally copied delicate EU knowledge — however the EU doesn’t appear to care

On July 24, high-level EU officers lastly confirmed the UK made unlawful copies of labeled private info from an EU database. Regardless of this, it doesn’t appear the EU Fee appears will take any motion, which — to involved members of European Parliament — highlights its and EU member states’ hypocritical and harmful method to individuals’s privateness. 

When Julian King, the European commissioner for safety, acknowledged the existence of the key report detailing the UK’s unlawful and sloppy knowledge practices — which the EU Observer revealed in 2018 — he added that “there are a selection of member states which have challenges on this space.” Whereas the comment might need been made to lower the severity of the UK’s infraction, for MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld it solely hints at an even bigger systemic drawback.

“We by no means hear about some of these instances till it seems within the media or someone leaks paperwork. This isn’t how a democracy works, there’s presupposed to be accountability and transparency,” in ‘t Veld informed TNW. “The European Fee doesn’t appear to grasp that, and nor do the member states’ governments. That is ridiculous.”

For this reason in ‘t Veld and her fellow Renew Europe MEPs are asking the Fee to make a full inquiry into doable unlawful knowledge breaches by member states and share them with the European Parliament, so MEPs can fulfill their power-checking position.

Secrecy doesn’t serve the individuals

The key report, which MEPs didn’t have entry to earlier than EU Observer’s reveal, outlined years value of violations by British authorities after they obtained restricted entry to the Schengen Info System (SIS) again in 2015. 

The SIS is an EU-run database which comprises names, biographic info, pictures, fingerprints, and arrest warrants for nearly half 1,000,000 non-EU residents denied entry into the Schengen zone. Along with that, it has private info, corresponding to biometric knowledge, of greater than 100,000 lacking individuals and 36,000 suspected criminals. 

The UK sloppily made full and partial copies of the database, and saved it on laptops at airports and authorities places of work, making it weak to additional breaches. British authorities additionally gave personal US contractors, corresponding to IBM, entry to the info, which suggests the knowledge may very well be requested by US authorities beneath the Patriot Act.

Now if this info is generally shared to cease crime, what’s the massive deal about spreading it? Effectively, as a result of the UK used static variations of the database (i.e. the unlawful copies), it means authorities usually labored with outdated info — probably letting criminals go by means of or unnecessarily stopping individuals already cleared from SIS. In ‘t Veld acknowledges using restricted private info and trendy expertise is required to catch the ‘dangerous guys’ — however we dwell in a democracy the place there are limits to authorities powers. 

Credit score: Glyn Lowe PhotoWorks