No to computer-aided profiling and search from Europol!

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“The Europol police agency analyses records using ‘data mining’ processes. The European Commission must prove that this does not constitute computer-aided profiling and search,” Cornelia Ernst, Member of the European Parliament, and Andrej Hunko, Member of the German Bundestag, said in a statement in reaction to the European Commission’s reply to their question on this subject. The parliamentarians had asked the Commission what computerised applications were used by Europol for investigation and analysis purposes. They had also enquired what police or internet-accessible records were accessed by the software.

“Europol uses specialised search tools for data mining and text mining,” Andrej Hunko said. “They search for matches within records. The I2 and Themis software packages, which have also been sold to intelligence agencies and the military, flag up the results as ‘risks’.”

“The Commission has not answered the question as to which records are searched in this way. It would be particularly problematic if searches for cross-matches were being carried out in multiple databases. That would constitute computer-aided profiling and search, and the German Constitutional Court has established stringent conditions regarding when that is permissible.”

“It is also a serious concern that the European Parliament is unable to exercise any meaningful parliamentary oversight over Europol,” Cornelia Ernst warned. “Important information is being withheld from the European Parliament’s committee on home affairs, with the ‘security interests’ of the Member States being cited as justification. It is therefore unthinkable for us that Europol should receive more operational powers in future, as the Commission is planning.”

“I2 promises that the software it sells can ‘predict’ crime. We are dealing with a police-industrial complex which, in responding to any behaviour which deviates from the norm, is convinced that technology is a panacea,” said the parliamentarians in conclusion.


The Commission’s provisional reply (in German) to the parliamentarians’ questions can be downloaded from the following address: