Editorial 11 December 2023
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Exploring an Under-the-Radar Area
The intense debate over the past few years on access to data for criminal investigations has led to the adoption of the E-evidence package. Yet, electronic evidence is no less crucial for punitive administrative proceedings. One administrative investigation authority that could benefit from more extensive access to electronic evidence is OLAF, which, at this point, does not seem to have the power to request data from service providers. Such powers could be essential, however, for the detection and investigation of fraud or corruption. This article argues the need for a general and thorough reflection on access to electronic evidence from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in administrative punitive proceedings. It also discusses the transfer of this type of evidence between administrative and criminal proceedings (in both directions) in order to more specifically justify an extension of OLAF’s powers to be able to request such evidence.Read more
An Introduction to the New EU Package on E-evidence
Digital technologies have advanced more rapidly than any other innovation in modern history and they permeate our daily lives. The benefits to our societies and economies are numerous, but the risks of cyberattacks and crime have also increased. The EU is committed to protecting its citizens against these risks in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. Prevention, detection, and enforcement form key components of the EU’s security architecture. Making use of the benefits of digital technologies and ensuring a high level of security across the Union were driving forces behind the latest building block in this architecture: the e-evidence package. Recently adopted, it aims to ensure that judicial and law enforcement authorities can obtain electronic evidence across the EU and beyond in a swift and legally sound manner for the purpose of investigations and prosecutions in criminal cases.
This article provides an introduction to the two new EU instruments: … Read more
The Happy Ending of a Long Negotiation Saga
The following article gives an overview of the long internal negotiations on the EU legal instruments aiming at improving cross-border access to e-evidence in judicial proceedings (the so-called e-evidence package), which have finally been concluded. It outlines the main challenges met during the negotiations and how they were overcome to reach a compromise which has become subject to political agreement. This compromise is expected to prove more useful from a practical point of view than previous, more general cooperation tools. In addition, the article puts the EU’s legislative initiative into the context of legal instruments and negotiations on law enforcement access to e-evidence at the international level before turning to expected future developments.Read more
Explanatory Remarks on the Rules on Compensation and Confiscation in the EPPO Regulation
How can the European Union be efficiently compensated for damage inflicted by criminal offences affecting its financial interests? The EU’s legislative framework, in particular the EPPO Regulation, states that EU Member States must take the necessary steps to confiscate, for the benefit of the Union, the proceeds of such criminal offences and to compensate for the damage caused by them. Given the binding force of the Regulation, these are even positive legal obligations for the Member States. According to the author, a minor adjustment in supranational and Member State legislation would suffice to achieve these objectives in a more efficient manner. He proposes, inter alia, including the proceeds of confiscation in the traditional own resources of the Union’s budget. He also examines how Belgian legislation could be adapted such that the Union is effectively compensated for the damage it suffers from criminal offences affecting its financial interests.Read more
The new EU Regulation on electronic evidence in criminal proceedings not only aims to enhance cross-border access to electronic evidence but also raises concerns regarding privacy, fundamental rights, and accountability. This article focuses on three key issues.
First, it is argued that the establishment of a direct cooperation framework between the issuing state and private service providers regarding data of citizens from other Member States reinterprets Art. 82 TFEU and circumvents the traditional review and scrutiny by the judicial authorities of the enforcing state, compromising transparency and individual rights.
Second, the rules in the Regulation that eliminate the requirement of dual criminality for certain categories of electronic evidence potentially lead to the collection of data for conducts that may not be criminalized in the enforcing state. In addition, the absence of the principle of speciality allows for the unintended use of evidence acquired through cooperation.
Third, the individuals' rights to privacy and … Read more
From the AI Regulation Proposed by the Commission to the EU Co-Legislators’ Positions
In April 2021, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a Regulation to harmonise rules on artificial intelligence (AI) across the EU, including AI in the context of law enforcement. Its horizontal character raised concerns in the police community, prompting a response by some Member States arguing for a separate legal act on the use of AI by law enforcement agencies. Two controversial components that have drawn the attention of the Council of the EU and the European Parliament are remote biometric identification and emotion recognition technologies. While the Council’s general approach aligns with the Commission’s proposal to balance law enforcement and human rights protection, the European Parliament pursues a narrower approach, advocating for the prohibition of real-time remote biometric recognition and emotion inference applications. It goes without saying that the outcome of the ongoing inter-institutional negotiations (trilogue) between the EU co-legislators and the Commission is being anticipated by … Read more