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[FYI] Fear raised by Euro police computer


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2 January 1999. Thanks to Anonymous 

The Times [London], 02 January 1999 

Fear raised by Euro police computer 

>From Roger Boyes in Bonn 

The new year opens the door not only for the euro but also for
Europol, the fledgeling 15-nation police intelligence agency that will
use the first part of its new computer system to fight crime across
the union. 

TECS - The Europol Computer System - is a policeman's dream and a
nightmare for civil rights activists. At present the computer is
defined as an interim system but will soon provide the police agency
with full analytical data not only on convicted criminals and suspects
but also victims, potential victims, those with suspected criminal
contacts and probably even witnesses. Data on health and race can also
be stored. 

Eventually, TECS will be expanded to provide a more general data bank
with a capacity to store information on about a million or more
people. The German Government - especially the Green Party - has
become very nervous about its introduction. Germany has the strictest
data protection laws in Europe and the question of access to the
stored information is particularly sensitive. At first only Europol
officials - nationally delegated detectives who work in The Hague -
will be able to use the data base. 

When the system expands, however, policemen from every country will be
able to tap into the Europol data bank. A French policeman could thus
discover private aspects of a German's life and behave more freely
with that information than a German policeman. 

The arrest of a Belgian policeman on suspicion of selling information
from the Schengen information system to the Mafia sent alarm bells
ringing in Germany. The question of storing information on witnesses
is particularly controversial. 

Europol officers cannot, as yet, function in the manner of a federal
police force, and the head of Europol is a well-respected German
detective. However, the data question is likely to become a

Copyright 1998 Times Newspapers Ltd. 

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