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Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 4 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the Government’s policy is on the proposals to provide Europol with access to commercial data in the absence of a specific and credible threat; and if she will make a statement. (146867)

At present there are no formal agreements between Europol and public or private entities relating to the provision of commercial data to Europol. The Europol Information System can only be used to process data that relate to persons who are suspected of having committed or suspected of having taken part in a crime in contravention of the national law of that country, or where there are factual indicators that they will commit such an offence.

A new legal instrument to regulate Europol’s activities is currently under negotiation in the Justice and Home Affairs Council. In the context of that negotiation, the question of the provision of commercial data to Europol has yet to be discussed. However, the Government’s view is that where that would involve the processing of personal data from public or private entities, it must take place exclusively via the Europol national units. The Government also believe where it is reasonable and necessary for Europol to be able to process data there must be adequate safeguards to ensure that such data are relevant for its tasks.