The EU Commission has launched a public consultation on improving cross-border access to electronic evidence in criminal matters
The EU Commission has launched a consultation exercise, which is open until 27 October, seeking views on ways to improve cross-border access to electronic evidence in criminal matters.
The objective is to gather input from a broad range of interested stakeholders, including public authorities, judges, prosecutors, EU institutions and agencies, international organisations, private companies, professional and business associations, civil society, academics and the general public.
The aim is to collect information, views and experiences on current practices on obtaining cross-border electronic evidence in Member States as well as on practical and legal problems arising both at national and EU level from any gaps and weaknesses in existing regulations.
The effective obtaining of electronic evidence frequently has cross-border implications. Reliance is usually placed on judicial cooperation mechanisms like mutual legal assistance (MLA) or, within the EU, mutual recognition, on the direct cooperation of service providers, or on direct access to obtain information. All raise different types of issues affecting the success of investigations, sometimes resulting in abandoned and unsuccessful cases.
In the European Agenda on Security, the Commission committed to review obstacles to criminal investigations on cybercrime, notably on cross-border access to electronic evidence. In its June 2016 Conclusions, the Justice and Home Affairs Council asked the Commission to explore possible solutions, including legislative options.
The Commission states that it will assess the scope for horizontal or further sectorial action at EU level, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity. The public consultation is intended to feed this assessment ‘without, however, either prejudging any action by the European Union or prejudging the legal feasibility of an EU action with regards to the limits of the Union's competence’.