Corona controls: German police use drones

To monitor measures against Covid-19, the federal states of Hesse and Bavaria deploy quadrocopters. In North Rhine-Westphalia, they fly over parks and gardens with a loudspeaker to instruct the population. A planned deployment in Frankfurt apparently does not take place in the end.

The police in Frankfurt am Main (Hesse) used a drone to monitor whether meetings were being held despite a ban due to the new corona virus. Background were the celebrations announced for Thursday on the occasion of high school graduation exams, which traditionally take place in the central Grüneburgpark. When asked, the police press office announced that the operation was carried out according to § 14 of the Hessian Law on Public Safety and Order (HSOG). It determines the police powers to collect and process data in public places and „particularly endangered public institutions“.

In Bavaria, small unmanned aircraft are also used for observation during the corona crisis. At Schengen borders, they are intended to assess traffic jams caused by the reintroduction of border controls. The small drones will complement a helicopter which is also deployed.

Announcements above „popular meeting points“

In addition, quadrocopters fly in at least two cities in North Rhine-Westphalia to control curfews. According to a media report, they are used by the police in Dortmund and Düsseldorf „to provide information about the health risks of not respecting the no-contact rule“. The drones are equipped with loudspeakers and circle above groups of people „at popular meeting points“. They were then „requested to leave the places“. According to the report, the State Ministry of Interior considers the deployment as positive.

Aerial announcements with the help of a drone are known from Baden-Wuerttemberg, among others, where they were used by a SWAT team for a house eviction in Freiburg in October. The drone was a „Mavic Enterprise“ from the Chinese manufacturer DJI, which was equipped with a loudspeaker from the company’s accessories. A second drone, presumably from the State Criminal Police Office, observed the action from the air.

Criticism in Frankfurt

However, Baden-Wuerttemberg is not planning to use its loudspeaker drone to fight Covid-19. The police authorities in Berlin and Hamburg, who use quadrocopters for aerial observation, also deny such plans.

In view of the summer temperatures, police drone flights were also announced this weekend in Frankfurt. However, according to a local newspaper, this operation is not to take place. A law professor had criticized the measure because of a missing authorization basis. He added that the reference in the Law on Public Safety and Order cited by the police did not cover surveillance with drones.

Image: A loudspeaker-equipped „Mavic Enterprise“ of the police in Baden-Württemberg (Wohnraum Gestalten, Freiburg).

Defence against drones: 420 million Euro for German airports

The German Federal Police wants to equip 14 airports against unwanted drones. The government estimates the costs for each system at 30 million euros. A prototype is currently being tested in Hamburg by an armaments company and the Bundeswehr.

The German government is planning the nationwide introduction of a permanently installed drone defence. This was written by the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology, in response to a written question. A total of 14 German commercial airports are to be equipped with such a system. The costs were recently outlined by the government in its answer to a minor interpellation. These would be „currently valued at €30 million per airport“. In total, the technology might then cost around €420 million. „Defence against drones: 420 million Euro for German airports“ weiterlesen

Chile: Spy like in Germany

German police officers are advising the police in Santiago on setting up a department for undercover investigations. Further support is provided to improve the public presentation of police measures

German criminal investigation offices are helping the police in Chile to set up a unit for undercover investigations. One of the partners providing expertise was the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) of Baden-Württemberg, which visited the Chilean authorities on site. This was confirmed by the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Stephan Mayer, in response to an inquiry by left-wing MP Ulla Jelpke. Security authorities had been „advised“ during the visit.

The LKA in Baden-Württemberg is one of those German authorities whose spies against left movements have been exposed in recent years. At the end of 2010, the undercover police officer Simon Bromma was discovered in Heidelberg, who was set upon anti-fascist groups under the alias „Simon Brenner“. The officer was also active in neighboring countries, the state government justified a trip to a No Border Camp in Brussels with „legend building“. Five years later, the Administrative Court in Karlsruhe declared the operation in Heidelberg illegal. „Chile: Spy like in Germany“ weiterlesen

Venezuela: Peter Krauth is released, now questions about Interpol warrants

Via Interpol, the German police are searching for Peter Krauth, Bernhard Heidbreder and Thomas Walter as members of a „terrorist group“. But all accusations are time-barred in Venezuela and partly also in Germany. The arrest warrants could therefore violate the Interpol statutes.

The German citizen Peter Krauth, who has been imprisoned in Venezuela since November, is free again. His release on Friday followed a ruling by the Supreme Court in Caracas, the website „Ende Aus“ reports. His extradition demanded by authorities in Germany is not possible because the accused offences are time-barred under Venezuelan law. Krauth was arrested at 16 November 2020 on an Interpol arrest warrant in Caracas.

The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is searching for Peter Krauth, Bernhard Heidbreder and Thomas Walter as members of the K.O.M.I.T.E.E.. As a „terrorist organization“ they are suspected of having carried out an arson attack on a Bundeswehr building in Bad Freienwalde in 1994 which left nobody hurt. One year later, the three allegedly tried to blow up a deportation prison under construction in Berlin-Grünau. A police patrol had become aware of preparations, and the building was eventually left unscathed. According to the BKA, „various pieces of evidence“ had been found in a vehicle left behind at the scene of the crime, which the police had assigned to the three. German authorities then published a manhunt. „Venezuela: Peter Krauth is released, now questions about Interpol warrants“ weiterlesen

Frontex launches new operations in Greece

In two RABIT missions, the EU Border Agency is sending 100 additional officials to the Greek-Turkish land and sea border. Frontex currently has around 600 operational forces stationed in Greece.

Frontex has started two new missions in Greece. Following a decision by Director Fabrice Leggeri, the EU Border Agency is sending border guards with technical assets to the Aegean Sea. A further mission has been launched today to reinforce police and military units for border surveillance on the land border with Turkey. This follows a request by the government in Athens.

Frontex is coordinating the new operations with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who visited the Greek-Turkish land border with the President of Parliament and the President of the Council on 3 March. Von der Leyen did not say a word about the one-month suspension of asylum applications imposed by Greece, nor did she comment on Greek attacks on refugees. Instead, she praised the government’s measures as a „European shield“ and promised emergency financial aid of 700 million euros for „migration management“. „Frontex launches new operations in Greece“ weiterlesen

Prüm Decision: European criminal police offices agree on face recognition system

The European Union is extending the cross-border query of biometric data to faces. Searches should also be possible with still images from surveillance cameras. Up to now, only individuals may be processed in the Prüm framework, but soon bulk searches could be permitted.

In 2008, the Member States of the European Union signed the EU Prüm Decision. The treaty allows law enforcement authorities to conduct cross-border searches of DNA, fingerprints and data containing vehicles and their owners. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Prüm Decision, the Council had proposed Conclusions to extend this cooperation to facial images.

For the envisaged „Next generation Prüm“ (Prüm.ng), the Commission first ordered a feasibility study from the consulting firm Deloitte. It was submitted last autumn and is being discussed in the relevant Council working groups, but remains secret. The British civil rights organisation Statewatch has published a report by a „focus group on face recognition“ in which ten criminal police offices define, on the basis of the Deloitte study, a technical framework for the comparison of faces. „Prüm Decision: European criminal police offices agree on face recognition system“ weiterlesen

Clearview AI: What does Interpol use face recognition for?

The International Police Organisation is developing a system to identify unknown persons by facial images. Interpol stores photos and videos from Internet service providers and other companies in a separate database. Interpol has also been using Clearview services for face recognition.

The US company Clearview AI has collected around three billion personal images from the Internet and used them to create a facial recognition database. This was reported in the New York Times six weeks ago. Most of the pictures were taken from social media profile photos, and it is likely that Clearview will also store the corresponding user data. Clearview offers companies and government agencies the option of identifying individuals by querying the database. According to reports, the facial images can also be searched with a photo app, which according to the New York Times is distributed among „rich people“.

The U.S. magazine Buzzfeed has obtained a client list from Clearview. It contains over 2,200 companies, governments and police authorities, including Interpol. The worldwide police organization has conducted more than 320 searches. „Clearview AI: What does Interpol use face recognition for?“ weiterlesen

Secret documents: European domestic intelligence services networking worldwide

30 European domestic secret services cooperate with the foreign services Mossad and CIA. With other authorities of the „Five Eyes“, the „Club de Berne“ exchanges information on „non-Islamic terrorism“ and „right-wing and left-wing extremism“. Governments like Germany have so far kept these details secret.

The „Club de Berne“, in which directors of domestic secret services of the EU member states as well as Norway and Switzerland are organized, has grown into a worldwide network. Jan Jirát and Lorenz Naegeli report this in the online edition of the Swiss „Wochenzeitung“, citing a secret document dated 2011. The „Club de Berne“ is thus involved in an international exchange of information with authorities in several continents.

The informal „Club de Berne“ was founded in 1969 by initially nine heads of secret services. Even then, following research by Aviva Guttmann, the European services cooperated with Israeli partners Shin Bet and Mossad as well as the US FBI. The networking was done via a cable system called „Kilowatt“. „Secret documents: European domestic intelligence services networking worldwide“ weiterlesen

Frontex wants to disembark refugees in Senegal

„Hera“ is the only Frontex maritime mission on the territory of a third country. A new agreement might extend this joint border surveillance

The EU border agency Frontex wants to bring back refugees picked up in the Atlantic Ocean to Senegal. The EU Commission should therefore negotiate a so-called Status Agreement with the government in Dakar. The proposal can be found in the annual report on the implementation of the Regulation for the surveillance of external sea borders. It regulates the maritime „operational cooperation“ of Frontex with third countries.

It would be the first agreement of this kind with an African government. So far, Frontex has only concluded Status Agreements with a number of Western Balkan countries for the joint surveillance of land borders. The only operation to date in a third country was launched by the Border Agency in Albania a year ago. „Frontex wants to disembark refugees in Senegal“ weiterlesen

Western Balkans: Clandestine connection to EU databases

Even without imminent EU accession, all third countries in South-East Europe will gradually be connected to European information systems. They will set up a fingerprint database along the lines of the EU model and, as in the Prüm Treaty, will make it possible to query biometric data. Secret services in the Western Balkans also use the Schengen Information System through a back door.

Albania, Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro are EU accession candidates, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are considered potential candidate countries. All governments therefore receive so-called Pre-accession Assistance for the development of police and border police capabilities. They are based on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement that the countries have concluded with the EU.

The European Union now wants to significantly expand security cooperation with all the countries of the Western Balkans. One focus is on irregular migration. The governments in South-East Europe have already received 216 million Euros for their control since 2007, and funds of a similar amount have flowed into the construction and operation of camps for refugees. According to a proposal by the Croatian Council Presidency, the Western Balkan governments should now set up a biometric database for refugees. It will be based on the Eurodac database, in which EU member states process the fingerprints of asylum seekers. The two fingerprint systems could then be merged after possible EU accession. In addition to fingerprints, Eurodac also stores facial images, but they are not yet searchable. „Western Balkans: Clandestine connection to EU databases“ weiterlesen