Photo: Ekot

Police eavesdropping powers expanded

Parliament is approving legislation Thursday that will make it much easier for the police to obtain information about Internet users, such as their names, telephone numbers, and IP addresses.

Until now, to obtain such information the suspected crime had to carry a prison sentence. The new law will allow police access even if a crime is only punishable by fines or conditional sentences. The legislation also expands the ability for secret surveillance of electronic communications. In certain circumstances a prosecutor will be able to approve surveillance without a court order.

Paul Pintér, national police coordinator for intellectual property crimes, says this will make it possible to investigate copyright violations that affect individuals, and he says it will provide better personal protection.

Critics say the police will use their new powers to hunt down illegal file-sharers. The Green and 

Left parties are voting against the legislation, but there is clear majority in parliament in favor.

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