[puamelia]Europe’s police agency Europol has been given enhanced cyber powers to track down terrorists and other criminals.
The new governance rules were approved by the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee on Thursday by a massive majority. MEPs claimed that the new powers come with strong data protection safeguards and democratic oversight.
Last November, the draft rules were given the green light by the European Union’s 28 member states. Now the panel’s politicos have overwhelmingly thrown their weight behind the measures, by 40 votes to three, with two abstentions.
It means that Europol will be able to more easily set up specialised units to respond immediately to emerging threats, in particular cross-border crimes and terrorist threats.
The regulation also gives legal certainty to the Internet Referral Unit, which tackles terrorist propaganda and related violent extremist activities on the Internet. With its new powers it will identify and refer relevant online content to the concerned Internet service providers, and it will support EU governments in operational and strategic analysis.
Under the new law, the EU’s judicial cooperation agency Eurojust will also have access to data collected and stored by Europol.
Augustín Diaz de Mera—the MEP charged with steering the law through three years of negotiations—said the regulation will also strengthen the European Parliament’s scrutiny over Europol.
The proposed law now needs the final stamp of approval of the whole European Parliament during its next plenary session in Strasbourg in May, allowing it to take effect from April 1 next year.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK