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The Data-Laundromat?

Public-Private-Partnerships and Publicly Available Data in the Area of Law Enforcement


Thilo Gottschalk


This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Licence Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

Keywords: law enforcement, public-private partnership, data protection, GDPR, LED

Law enforcement increasingly relies on complex machine learning approaches to support investigations. With limited knowledge and funding LEAs often depend on opaque private-public collaborations. Failure to provide legal bases on the national level paired with shortcomings both in the GDPR and Directive EU-2016/680 (LED) result in severe risks for fundamental rights of EU citizens. To overcome these risks an interdisciplinary discussion is required. This paper hence sheds light on technical challenges and misconceptions as well as legal shortcomings to foster a common understanding of the challenges to find out how they might be addressed. To do so, the author searches for common ground of ‘public availability’ and reviews currently used technical approaches and common processing constellations. Based on the outcomes, the author proposes a change in the LED and discusses a centralised institution to govern access to novel data driven technology.
Keywords: law enforcement; public-private partnership; data protection; GDPR; LED

Thilo Gottschalk, Center for Applied Legal Studies, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). For correspondence: <>. This work has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No.740558. All Internet links in this article were last accessed on 12 March 2020.


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