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Handbook on European law relating to cybercrime and fundamental rights.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights is developing a Handbook on European law relating to cybercrime and fundamental rights. Here is what you need to know.

The handbook will be made available in 2021, as soon as the updated rules on electronic evidence are adopted. It will first be published in English and then in other EU languages. You can get updates on the progress of the Handbook on the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights´ website.

In October 2017 the European Parliament requested the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) to develop a handbook with guidelines on supervisory and scrutiny controls for Member States to ensure compliance with fundamental rights safeguards while countering cybercrime. Therefore, the Handbook aims to:

  • “Highlight the key fundamental rights challenges of investigating cybercrime and securing electronic evidence following the standards provided by EU and Council of Europe’s rules and case law.”
  • “Map the obligations of Member States to protect individuals against crime and safeguard the fundamental rights of cybercrime victims.”
  • “Identify promising practices of effective investigative techniques on cybercrime and electronic evidence in line with fundamental rights and rule of law requirements.”

Fighting cybercrime is one of the three pillars of the European Agenda on Security. Given the constantly evolving dynamics of cybercrime the EU and the Council of Europe are updating their legal frameworks to meet these new challenges and take new technologies into account.

In two crucial meetings, first in Bucharest (2018) then in Vienna from the 14th to the 15th of May, the aim, scope and structure of the handbook were discussed but may still be subject to change.

Therefore, as requested by the European Parliament, the handbook should build capacity and raise awareness on practical issues relating to cybercrime and fundamental rights. While it will not provide policy guidelines, it will present European law (EU and Council of Europe) and existing international standards on human rights (incl. from the UN and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)) relevant to cybercrime. Further, it will present the extent to which computer and information systems are both the object and a tool of crime, with a fundamental rights focus, following the Budapest Convention. Similarly, to the latter, it will include reference to the procedural powers to investigate cybercrime and the relevant legal frameworks on electronic evidence. Finally, the handbook will cover both the perspective of the victim and suspect.

Beside the FRA the Council of Europe with the support of the European Court of Human Rights, the European Commission and several EU Agencies, such as Eurojust, Europol and ENISA will be involved in creating this handbook.

Its intended target group are legal practitioners, including criminal justice authorities, criminal lawyers and victim support services. However, the handbook is envisioned to become an accessible tool for a non-specialised audience as well.


Note: This article is based on the FRA´s website and the summary of the outcome of the 2019 Vienna meeting.

Author: Niklas Hamann


FRA (2019). Handbook on European law relating to cybercrime and fundamental rights. Available at:

FRA (2019). Cybercrime and Fundamental Rights – 2nd Expert meeting Summary outcome. Available at:


FRA, law, cybercrime, EU