Dáil debates

Thursday, 29 April 2021

European Union Regulation: Motion


1:35 pm

Photo of Michael CollinsMichael Collins (Cork South West, Independent) | Oireachtas source

The proposals contained in the motion were published in December 2020. They could vastly increase the powers of the EU policing agency, Europol. They would grant Europol new data processing powers, a role in developing algorithms for the police and a mechanism to facilitate co-operation with non-EU states. The policy states: "In specific cases where Europol considers that a criminal investigation should be initiated into a crime falling within the scope of its objectives, it shall request the competent authorities of the Member States concerned via the national units to initiate, conduct or coordinate such a criminal investigation." That is a concern. What are the implications of this for Ireland? I believe this provision will allow Europol to set priorities for member states when it comes to investigations being carried out in the relevant territory. Is this the case? Can the Minister clarify the matter? Many member states have flagged concerns about the contents of this provision.

What level of consultation with Ireland, as a member state, will be required when it comes to sharing data with private parties? This is especially troubling when the private party concerned is not established within the Union or in a country with which Europol has a co-operation agreement. It would allow for the exchange of personal data under an international agreement which the Union has concluded under Article 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Was this matter raised by the Government? Are there implications for the rights of Irish citizens?

Previous speakers spoke about cyberbullying and hacking. I was the victim of hacking this week for the first time in my life. It was not a major incident but it was frustrating to learn that people received emails with falsified details looking for personal details and they appeared to be sent from my email address. My thanks go to the dozens of people who contacted me because they were concerned. They knew it was fictitious. It was a frustrating situation. I would like some clarity on the questions I asked the Minister and I would appreciate if he could provide it.


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