LIBE Committee draft report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters has been released. The debate on the amendments is expected to continue through the end of December. The final adoption of the report is tentatively scheduled for the beginning of next year.

The full LIBE Committee report can be found here.

During the 'e-Evidence: The Way Forward' workshop held in Brussels at the of September, Ms Birgit Sippel, MEP and Rapporteur for the e-Evidence package, gave an introductory speech about the EU Parliament’s view on e-Evidence. Summary of the remarks was published on 6 November 2019 by Prof. Theodore Christakis in the European Law Blog:

Ms Sippel noted that the efficiency arguments put forward by the Commission for the E-Evidence proposal should not override the need to protect fundamental rights.

The EP’s criticisms of the e-Evidence proposal include the following:

The fact that the criminal laws of the Member States continue to diverge considerably and that the CJEU pointed out problems with current mutual recognition instruments undermine a shift to a system of absolute mutual trust without the involvement of the authority of the enforcing/executing state;

There is a need to reintroduce certain protections into the proposal, including dual criminality which could also help narrow the divergences in the definition of what constitutes a ‘serious crime’ (the current three-year threshold would allow for virtually any crime to fall within scope of the European production order);

Notification to the data subject is too easily circumvented; therefore, there is a need to ensure in the proposal the ability to inform users about authorities’ requests for their data to allow affected persons to exercise their fundamental rights, while at the same time respecting the need to avoid jeopardizing a criminal investigation if based on duly justified confidentiality grounds; in addition, affected persons should be able to bring proceedings before their local court, to guarantee the right to effective remedies and the principle of equality of arms;

Notification to the executing/enforcing state, to enable rejection of a request, is crucial to protecting the rights of individuals; at the same time, notification to the state where the person resides may also be necessary;

The proposal would shift the responsibility for protecting the rights of citizens and residents from Member States to private service providers, which is unacceptable; that said, service providers are important allies that can help ensure the necessity and proportionality of orders as long as they are not solely responsible for this process.

During Q&A, MEP Sippel cautioned against perceiving EU harmonization as a silver bullet for changing rights-intrusive practices of some Member States, citing the passenger name record (PNR) agreements and directive, which in her opinion resulted in a less protective standard for the EU than previously seen at a national level. Nevertheless, she expressed hope that the Parliament’s report will raise the overall protections and close the loopholes in the current draft of the proposal that would allow the law enforcement to use less rights-protective national measures.