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Police co-operation: MEPs adopt law on more efficient data exchanges

08 февруари 2024 13:51, Людмила Калъпчиева
Излъчване: Туида Нюз преди 2 месеца, брой четения: 119
European Parliament

New rules mean that facial images and police records can also be exchanged

Common safeguards to ensure fundamental rights compliance

MEPs have given their final green light to new rules making data exchanges between EU crime-fighting authorities faster and simpler, and ensuring fundamental rights compliance.

 

On Thursday, the European Parliament voted with 451 in favour, 94 against, and 10 abstentions to approve the agreement from negotiations with the Council on updating the framework for exchanging data, including fingerprints, DNA records, facial images and police records between EU member states (‘Prüm II’ framework). The agreement also covers exchanges between Europol and the member states.

 

Faster exchanges covering new types of data

 

The new law expands the scope of data searches (currently including DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data) between police, customs and other relevant authorities to facial images and police record index numbers of suspects and convicted criminals, if member states opt in to share these records.

 

When a positive match is found, core data including names, birthdates and case numbers of criminal cases can be exchanged. Biometric data will be exchanged through a central router that connects the national systems, replacing numerous bilateral connections. The upgrade will also allow Europol to query the national authorities’ databases to establish cross-border links in investigations.

 

The framework also allows for data exchanges to search for missing persons and identifying human remains, as well as for humanitarian reasons, including natural disasters, where this is permitted by national law. After an initial query has resulted in a match, data will have to be exchanged within 48 hours of the match, unless judicial authorisation requires a longer timeframe.

 

The upgraded ‘Prüm II’ framework also includes safeguards for the respect of fundamental rights. Requesting states may decide to manually confirm DNA, fingerprint and facial image matches, and exchanges of facial images and police records are limited to investigations of crimes carrying a prison sentence of at least one year. Finally, the law also includes a due diligence clause ensuring that data exchanges fully respect fundamental rights, and a proportionality check on exchanges.

 

Quote

 

After the vote, rapporteur Paulo Rangel (EPP, Portugal) said: “To have a Europe without internal borders, we also need to give law enforcement proper tools to fight cross-border crime. This long-awaited upgrade to the Prüm framework will allow the authorities to share vital evidence and data, including facial images and police records. At the same time, we have ensured that data exchanges are proportional and covered by strong safeguards, to boost security without undermining fundamental rights.”

 

Background

 

The EU’s current rules for automated data exchanges for investigating and preventing crimes are based on the Prüm Convention of 2005. In 2021, the Commission proposed so-called ‘Prüm II’ rules to expand and simplify data exchanges as part of the Police Cooperation Code package.

 

Once the law has also been formally adopted by the Council, it will be published in the Official Journal of the EU, and will enter into force twenty days later.