Published: Thu, 12 May 2016
The European Parliament has granted the EU’s law enforcement agency, Europol, new powers to tackle terrorists online, according to Seán Kelly MEP.
“Today, MEPs voted in favour of new powers to help Europol fight terrorism and cybercrime, including tackling the presence of terrorist organisations online for propaganda purposes,” the Ireland South MEP said in Strasbourg.
The new rules, endorsed by the Parliament today, will enable Europol to set up specialised units to respond to emerging threats, such as from terrorist groups. The measures will also allow for the swift removal of websites praising terrorist acts or encouraging EU citizens to join terrorist organisations.
“Importantly, Europol will be able to exchange information directly with private entities such as firms or NGOs, which will greatly aid its work. For example, Europol will be able to contact Facebook, or other social media platforms, and request that any Facebook pages run by terrorist groups like ISIS are deleted – to eliminate terrorist propaganda.
“This is a vital step forward in counter-terrorism in Europe as we know that terrorist groups often recruit young people online. Our authorities need to be able to prevent the online radicalisation of youth.
“However, these new powers come with rules on the use of personal data, safeguarded by EU data protection laws and Europol will also be subject to the oversight of the European Parliament and national MPs via a Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group,” said Mr Kelly.
In addition to counter-terrorism, Europol helps Member States combat human trafficking, drug trafficking and financial fraud and more, supporting around 18,000 international investigations every year.
“Some 800 airline tickets are bought using fraudulent card transactions every day in the EU. Card payment fraud amounted to €1.33 billion in 2012,” Kelly added, stressing the importance of EU cooperation to fight crime.
Thanks to today’s green light from the European Parliament, Europol’s new powers will take effect on 1 April 2017. It follows a budgetary boost of €2 million to increase staffing and resources in the newly created Europol-run European Counter-Terrorism Centre, approved by the Parliament last month.