A Finnish security firm that had its VPN logs seized as part of a criminal investigation has been informed that the seizure was unlawful and that the logs will now be destroyed. In January 2019, F-Secure was contacted by Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation requesting login data from its FREEDOME VPN.
The logs were required in relation to a “serious crime” being investigated by German prosecutors. However, after handing over the logs, F-Secure made a request for the seizure to be overturned and the acquired data destroyed.
F-Secure argued that the collected data should be considered confidential and, more importantly, should only have related to the suspect in the criminal case. Finnish investigators took more data than was strictly necessary.
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In May last year, a district court found in F-Secure’s favour, agreeing that the data seizure was coercive. For internet users in Finland worried about what data is stored by VPN providers, the court hearing also provided some clarity.
The FREEDOME logs contained customers’ IP addresses, device IDs and the start and end time of their VPN connection, but did not record which sites were visited. It may still have been possible, however, to gather useful evidence about the suspect in this particular case by combining this information with data usage logs.
The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation didn’t agree with the district court’s decision ordering the destruction of the data and appealed but was ultimately unsuccessful. Although the logs have now been destroyed, the fact that the logs were seized initially should serve as a reminder that using a VPN is not a fail-safe method to avoid the clutches of law enforcement officials.
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Via Torrent Freak