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Safety and Privacy in Crisis: The Impact of GDPR on Search and Rescue Operations


GDPR legislation put an end to the police being able to use the effective map tool SARTopo, when Torjus Seland (7) disappeared while hunting in Lindesnes in Agder.

Dagbladet has previously revealed that the tool, which enables everyone who participates in the search to get a continuously updated map where you can see where searches are being conducted and where searches have been made, violates the Privacy Act and was therefore not used.

The seven-year-old was found dead after 48 hours. Now the leader of the Justice Committee, Per-Willy Amundsen (Frp), is reacting to the revelation.

Did not use critical tools in the search

– Suboptimal support tools

– A guarantee is requested from the minister that new operational support tools for search operations will be in place during 2024, so that the police do not have to operate with suboptimal support tools in a time-critical process such as a search operation for missing people, writes Amundsen in an inquiry to Minister of Justice and Emergency Situations, Emilie Mehl.

At the same time, he asks Mehl to state which specific issues and rules for privacy prevent the use of the map tool SARTopo during search operations.

IMPRESSED: Mandal police station chief Bernt Mushom says that the whole of Norway held its breath during the search operation where Torjus Seland (7) was found dead. Video: NRK Show more

– Could have had a different outcome

Conservative politician and justice committee member Ingunn Foss, like Amundsen, sent questions to Mehl following Dagbladet’s disclosure. She has asked the minister whether there is reason to look into whether something can be done with the regulations to give the police the opportunity to use tools that could potentially be life-saving.

– The police must be able to use all the tools in the toolbox to find missing persons in potential danger to their lives. It is about emergency justice and reaching out with life-saving help, says Foss to Dagbladet, and adds:

– We must learn from the case in Lindesnes, if SARTopo had been used it might have led to the search operation having a different outcome. Therefore, I am asking the Minister of Justice to assess whether the current regulations are good enough.

Towards the police: – Obviously wrong

– Take it seriously

The committee’s member, Else Marie Rødby (Sp), also believes it is important that people can trust that the police will bring sufficient tools in critical situations. The police in Agder have previously told Dagbladet that the current tools are not optimal. That causes Rødby to react.

– Then it is important that they modernize with new digital tools, especially if it can make work more efficient. Then it is the Norwegian Police Directorate that makes the professional assessments of this, but I am concerned that the police should have good tools in rescue operations like this, precisely because their role in such situations is so important, says Rødby.

She believes that the police must be trusted when they say that SARTopo would not change the outcome in this particular case with Torjus.

– But if there are challenges related to privacy and important help tools, then we take it seriously, emphasizes Rødby.

Dagbladet has been in contact with the Ministry of Justice regarding Mehl’s view on the matter. So far, she has neither answered our inquiries nor the questions from the Justice Committee’s members.

2023-12-07 08:38:09

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