Introduction to Europol Data Protection Experts Network
As the European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol works in cooperation with different law enforcement authorities to fight against international crime and terrorism. In order to achieve its goals, Europol processes significant amounts of personal data that need an optimal level of protection in accordance with EU’s values and standards.
Processing of Personal Data for Law Enforcement Purposes
As a part of the EU’s institutional ecosystem, Europol acts in a strict regulatory framework and can be held accountable by the European Data Protection Supervisor regarding its personal data processing. Law enforcement is a field that is highly dynamic and where the use of new technologies and the appearance of new models of criminality call for an equally dynamic understanding of data protection needs. To ensure an optimal level of data protection, Europol puts in place a set of mechanisms, tools, and networks. In this context, Europol constituted a network of qualified privacy professionals with an interest in law enforcement challenges to deliberate on questions that data protection raises in a law enforcement context. In this post, we will examine the Europol Data Protection Experts Network (EDEN) to understand what it is and how it operates to ensure a better understanding of regulatory and ethical frameworks.
Europol Data Protection Experts Network: An expertise sharing platform
Europol’s Data Protection Experts Network (EDEN) was launched as a way of gathering eminent privacy professionals together to have fruitful exchanges around the topic of data protection in law enforcement. EDEN is an online collaboration platform that was conceived as part of the Europol Platform for Experts (EPE). It gathers stakeholders from various fields including law enforcement, data protection, private industries, NGOs, academia and serves as a means to convey ideas, conceive projects, and organize events that simultaneously concern data protection and law enforcement. The conference format is the one chosen by EDEN to cement its role as an innovative stimulator of dialogue around data protection and law enforcement. The last of which is the 2021 “Human after all – Data Protection in policing”.
EDEN and the importance of collaboration in the data protection field
The outbreak of new forms of criminality and the innovative tools law enforcement authorities possess reaffirm the paramount importance of ensuring forward-thinking and dynamic protection of personal data. Law enforcement must be balanced out by citizens’ fundamental rights, namely that of the protection of personal data as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This balance creates an environment of trust in law enforcement authorities among European citizens and allows an efficient cooperation between Europol and other concerned entities. The knowledge produced by networks such as EDEN contributes to public dialogue and assures a deeper understanding of how data protection can effectively help Europol to ensure its missions more effectively by acquiring the trust of the public. This was the main topic of the 2019 EDEN conference titled “Paradise Lost? Policing in the Age of Data Protection”.
Criminality is steadily and continuously mutating. For instance, the exponential increase in cyber criminality is posing new challenges that need to be faced by data-driven solutions. While ensuring these efforts, Europol must present an adequate level of data protection to European citizens. Europol continues its efforts in this regard by encouraging the work of innovative privacy professionals with the aim of creating a balance between efficient law enforcement and compliant use of personal data. At Privanova, we often work alongside Europol to consolidate law enforcement that respects the fundamental rights of European citizens through EU-funded projects such as CC-Driver in which Europol is an important stakeholder.