The evolution of 5G networks is causing concern for Catherine De Bolle, head of Europol, who argues that law enforcement will lose the ability to surveil criminals when 4G networks become obsolete. EU member states lack both regulations and technology to keep up, she says.
The ability to monitor criminals "is one of the most important investigative tools that police officers and services have, so we need this in the future," she explained in an interview with Reuters, pointing to the example of a child being kidnapped.
European law enforcement officials can currently monitor and listen to criminals using mobile 4G devices, but their tools cannot be used on the 5G network, De Bolle said in an interview with Reuters. In her opinion, European law enforcement agencies should have been involved in discussions with tech firms and policymakers earlier in the transition to 5G. Now, police agencies are researching ways to minimize damage when they lack the ability to do their jobs as usual.
"The biggest risk is that we are not enough aware of the developments on a technological level and we have to be ahead on this," De Bolle said. "We have to understand what is going on and we have to try to provide answers to it."
She suggested Europol evolve as a platform for modernizing EU law enforcement by developing new tools and technology — a move that would require far more political and financial support than it is planned to have for the 2021–2027 budget period.
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