The GuardianThe Guardian

A data ‘black hole’: Europol ordered to delete vast store of personal data

By Apostolis Fotiadis, Ludek Stavinoha, Giacomo Zandonini, Daniel Howden

10 Jan 2022 · 10 min read

The EU’s police agency, Europol, will be forced to delete much of a vast store of personal data that it has been found to have amassed unlawfully by the bloc’s data protection watchdog. The unprecedented finding from the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) targets what privacy experts are calling a “big data ark” containing billions of points of information. Sensitive data in the ark has been drawn from crime reports, hacked from encrypted phone services and sampled from asylum seekers never involved in any crime.

According to internal documents seen by the Guardian, Europol’s cache contains at least 4 petabytes – equivalent to 3m CD-Roms or a fifth of the entire contents of the US Library of Congress. Data protection advocates say the volume of information held on Europol’s systems amounts to mass surveillance and is a step on its road to becoming a European counterpart to the US National Security Agency (NSA), the organisation whose clandestine online spying was revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content
Or

LoginForm.agreeToTerms