Internet communication tough to investigate

"Our legislation is obviously not working in the US"
4:26 min

Police are still having a tough time investigating crimes in which criminals used the Internet to communicate, despite the amended Electronic Communications Act, requiring service providers and telecommunications companies to save data for six months. The legislation was intended to aid police in their work.

One of the problems is the lack of international agreements allowing police to access information stored on servers in other countries, Anders Ahlqvist, an IT crime investigator with the National Bureau of Investigation, told Swedish Radio News.

"The legislation is national, while the world of the Internet is borderless, and naturally that causes problems. Before we could retrieve a lot of the information on a confiscated hard drive in Sweden. Now, in many cases we can't even determine which continent the information is coming from," Ahlqvist told Swedish Radio news.

Sweden enacted the EU's Data Retention Directive into national law this spring. The new law amended Sweden's Electronic Communications Act and requires Internet service providers and telecommunications companies to retain data for six months, the minimum period required by the EU Directive.

The stored data is supposed to be used by law enforcement only for the detection, investigation, and prosecution of serious crime. The law took effect May 1.

With very serious crimes Swedish police can ask an American court for help accessing an e-mail conversation or a photo from Twitter, Google or Facebook or one of the other American Internet giants.

The problem, says Ahlqvist is that it can take several months to submit a legal request for the information, leaving only three months - half the time police are allowed to retrieve information in the Data Storage Act.

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