Data has gained in importance in recent years. And it has grown as well. Known or unbeknown to us, all of us have lots and lots of data pertaining to us strewn about the web. While this is good and indeed natural, all this data has a lot of consequences as well. One of the said consequences is that the boundary defining the protection of data hosted over the Internet has blurred.

For examples, when crime occurs and some of the evidence is hosted within data centers — well, what happens? The police has the responsibility to unearth what evidence it can. On the other hand, the corporations have the responsibility and the wherewithal to protect the data belonging to their customers. If they don’t, well the faith of the customers will be completely shaken.

However, in many cases companies and law enforcement agencies cant see eye to eye and we have an impasse where neither is willing to concede.  This has often hampered the progress of investigations into crime. And now, the European Union is thinking about taking decisions that will force companies to accede to demands made by enforcement agencies.

A meeting was held yesterday, wherein EU ministers discussed how these companies could be forced to accede to the demands made by law enforcement agencies and expedite the process of unearthing evidence. The options on the table include police to copy data directly from the cloud. However, that would most likely be an emergency measure to be used very rarely.

More likely would be that companies could be forced to turn over data if requested by law enforcement authorities in other member countries of the EU. And, law enforcement authorities in one EU member state would be able to ask an IT provider in another member country to turn over electronic evidence without having to go through the government of the said country.

The way things are shaping up to be, a legislation could be brought in soon. Speaking with TechCrunch, a spokesperson said:

The Commission is working on facilitating the work of law enforcement authorities in the digital age. Commissioner Jourová presented at the Justice Council three legislative options to improve access to e-evidence. She also presented some short term actions that can be taken immediately.

“Ministers all agreed that a legislative approach is needed, they mostly discussed the option of “production orders”, but also measures regarding direct access. Based on their discussion, the Commission will prepare a legislative proposal by the end of this year or early 2018.

Meanwhile, any decision on the topic is certain to cause controversy and bedlam. A very, very delicate balance is needed to ensure that crimes can be investigated without any hindrance and conversely, corporations are able to protect the data of their clients.

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