The European Commission isplanning new measures in forthcoming law enforcement legislation that would force technology and social media companies to hand over customer data held outside the EU. It claims that the measures, due to be unveiled before the end of March, will speed up legal investigations.
But the new laws would be little different from the ongoing case in the US whereby the Department of Justice (DoJ) has demanded that Microsoft hand over emails held by Microsoft in a data centre located in Ireland.
Microsoft has argued that it is outside US legal jurisdiction and, hence, should take its order to Ireland. Microsoft is supported in that case by the European Union. In December it was reported that the EU planned to make a submission in support of Microsoft's position.
But according to Reuters, European officials are planning new laws that will compel organisations to turn over personal data on request, even if that data is held outside the European Union.
The new measures will almost certainly be opposed by privacy campaigners, who claim that such extra-territorial jursidiction not only erodes well-established legal principles, but will undermine privacy rights.
Technology firms, meanwhile, fear that it will undermine trust in cloud computing and cloud services, not to mention clashing with privacy laws, such as the EU's own General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Under the proposals, according to Reuters' sources, the personal data of anyone "linked" with an investigation by an EU state could be compromised, regardless of whether they are an EU citizen or not.
This could potentially put EU states at loggerheads with other governments around the world.
Reuters adds that the proposed legislation is still in its drafting stage and will go before member states by the end of March. The resulting directive could take two years to be agreed.
European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova appeared to confirm the plans, telling Reuters that current measures for accessing cross-border evidence held on computer was "very slow and non-efficient".
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