The security of European citizens: What role for e-evidence?

Nowadays, the success of criminal investigations is increasingly reliant on the ability of law enforcement to obtain electronic evidence.

This shift to the digital space is posing complex challenges due to the international character and lack of borders in the digital world. There is a strong need for an effective mechanism. However, the legal framework has been lagging behind, relying on tools that are not designed to deal with the large volume of cross-border requests.

To address this problem, in April 2018, the European Commission has put forward a legislative proposal introducing an EU-wide framework that enables law enforcement pursuing criminal investigation in one Member State to obtain evidence directly from a service provider located in a different Member State.

Currently, stakeholders in the Council and European Parliament are debating the proposed legislation and its potential to meet the needs of law enforcement as well as the requisite procedural safeguards to ensure adequate legal protection for suspects and other users in the European Union. The Commission’s proposal also sets the ground for a possible EU-US agreement governing access to the electronic evidence in a global world. Recently, the EU Member States have reiterated their request to the European Commission for a mandate to begin the negotiations with the U.S., demonstrating the urgency of the need for such an agreement.

EURACTIV organised this Stakeholder Debate to discuss possible solutions for the challenges around obtaining evidence in an increasingly digital world.

Questions included:
– What data exists to support the argument that e-evidence results in more convictions of criminals and terrorists?
– Can e-evidence lead to more government monitoring? How can an appropriate level of monitoring be agreed?
– Should the scope of the proposal be limited to cases of terrorism or serious crime?
– What burdens will be placed upon service providers?

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