Prosecution given access to communications data in 370 cases last year

Courts (Illustrative).
Courts (Illustrative). Source: Silver Gutmann/Supreme Court

Estonian first-instance courts processed 376 requests for communications data from telecoms by the Prosecutor's Office last year. While no precise statistics is kept, experts believe most such requests are granted.

Elisabet Mast, public relations adviser for the Ministry of Justice, told ERR that the prosecution only asks the court's permission to access communications data in cases where it is absolutely necessary. Courts processed 376 requests last year, while that does not mean access was granted in as many cases.

"The court refuses to grant access in just 1-2 percent of cases," Mast said, adding that there is no precise statistics for this.

Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure were introduced in 2022 after which the number of requests filed and granted fell. Communications data access was granted in 3,319 cases in 2018, 2,706 in 2019 and 2,828 in 2020.

Looking at these requests for data access by court, they have been the most numerous in Harju County Court (141), followed by the Viru County Court (134), Tartu County Court (64) and Pärnu County Court (37) so far this year.

The European Commission said last year that saving masses of communications data in order to fight crime is contrary to EU law. At the same time, the practice continues in Estonia, even though access to data is subject to stricter restrictions.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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