European military drones to fly alongside civilian aircraft

Until now, army drones fly in segregated airspace, but soon they will also be allowed for civil airspace. For this purpose, military companies are developing automatic avoid systems. The „Eurodrone“ will be the first to implement this as standard; in Germany, the „Triton“ spy drone may be faster.

The European defence companies Airbus, Dassault and Leonardo want to develop the armed „Eurodrone“ to production readiness by 2025. The medium-altitude-long-endurance drone (MALE) should then be flown by the Bundeswehr and other armies of the EU. In Germany, military drones have so far been operating exclusively in specially reserved airspaces. That could change soon: The Eurodrone is to be fully integrated into the so-called controlled airspace. European military drones to fly alongside civilian aircraft weiterlesen

G20 in Hamburg: Data protection commissioner considers face recognition illegal

The Hamburg police have been researching facial analysis software for several years, which was then used for the first time after the G20 summit. The technology accesses the nationwide INPOL file for criminal offenders maintained by the Federal Criminal Police Office. The detection rates are meagre, but the system is still to be used permanently in Hamburg for the „processing of major events“.

The face analysis software used by the Hamburg Special Commission „Schwarzer Block“ („Black Block“) has led to the identification of only three people. This was written by the Hamburg Senate in response to a question by Christiane Schneider, a member of parliament. The Special Commission, which was set up after the G20 summit, uses the face recognition software „Videmo360“ from the company Videmo, which processes all common image and video formats. G20 in Hamburg: Data protection commissioner considers face recognition illegal weiterlesen

Surveillance laboratory Südkreuz

Another pilot project to monitor travellers is starting at a Berlin train station.

The German Federal Police is testing the use of technology at Berlin’s Südkreuz railway station to detect and intervene in conspicuous behavior. Hazardous situations are defined for this purpose, which are then to be automatically identified with the aid of „intelligent video analysis systems“.

In response to a written question, the Federal Ministry of the Interior provides more detailed information on the six scenarios to be identified for the first time. For example, the technology should classify suitcases that stand around unattended for a long time as „suspicious objects“. Persons who behave conspicuously or enter blocked areas are also be reported. The software should count people on the platform and detect when a „mass of people“ spreads quickly. Finally, the camera operators should also have the option of marking people on the video with their faces, clothing or things they have with them so that the system can follow them over a longer period of time. All functions would be available in real time, but monitoring of people and crowds should also be possible in archive material.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Police and the Federal Criminal Police Office are participating in the project „Security Station Berlin Südkreuz“, which was launched exactly one year ago, but is managed by the railway company Deutsche Bahn AG as the host of the station. Initially, the participants had tried automated face recognition. A six-month test was extended to one year to investigate the compatibility of three commercially available face recognition systems with the camera technology at Südkreuz station. The tested recognition systems were from Idemia (formerly Morpho), DELL/ Herta Security and Elbex/ AnyVision were tested. The faces were compared with a database of photos of around 300 volunteers who received shopping vouchers as a gratification.

Before the tests began last summer, the Federal Ministry of the Interior was reluctant to provide information about the software used. Instead, various manufacturers were asked about the functionalities of their software and hardware. The contract is then awarded by a by private contract wihtout any tendering procedure.

During the second phase of the project, which is now beginning, the ministry also responded to several parliamentary inquiries. In its most recent answer to the written question, the Ministry for the first time identifies the eligible manufacturers for the continuation of the pilot project. The list explains seven providers from which Deutsche Bahn AG has made a request to the German Federal Police and the Federal Criminal Police Office about the capabilities of their software:

Briefcam Insight and Protect (Briefcam)
GREENAGES Citywide Surveillance (Fujitsu)
Hitachi Video Analytics (HVA) (Hitachi)
IBM Intelligent Video Analytics (IVA) (IBM)
IDOL (MicroFocus)
IPS Public Transport Protection (Securiton)
Situational Awareness Builder (Get2Know)

All systems can recognize deviant behavior, but the functionalities are very different. While the IPS software only monitors the movement of people and issues an alarm when they enter tracks, for example, other applications can also detect and track objects, count people or detect frequently occurring anomalies as „trends“. Some manufacturers also advertise that their technology is based on artificial intelligence. However, the focus should be on face recognition, which can also be integrated into most products.

In the first phase of the project, Deutsche Bahn identified the monitored station areas with banners and signs. If travellers did not want to be recorded by the cameras used, they could use other entrances or escalators („non-recognition area“). Neither Deutsche Bahn AG nor the Federal Ministry of the Interior have yet explained how this is to be handled in the second phase of the project. If all camera systems in the station are accessed, it is impossible to escape the surveillance laboratory.

Image: IPS Intelligent Video Analytics

German Criminal Police maintains arrest warrants despite Interpol warning about political persecution

After the detention of critical authors and journalists, Interpol came under criticism. All arrest warrants should be reviewed retroactively for possible political persecution. German authorities promised to check incoming warrants more strictly. Little has happened since then.

In police investigations, the border to political or religious persecution is sometimes blurred. This becomes particularly critical when international warrants come from non-democratic countries. In order not to transform the Interpol authority into an instrument of political persecution, it is therefore strictly forbidden „to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character“. However, this does not prevent some countries from issuing searches or, as in the case of Germany, from playing the game in some cases. German Criminal Police maintains arrest warrants despite Interpol warning about political persecution weiterlesen

Despite territorial clause: Europol starts police cooperation with Israel

After years of negotiations, Europol and Israel agreed on closer police cooperation. A treaty on the exchange of personal data is to follow. According to an EU decision, such agreements do not apply in occupied territories.

The Israeli government concluded a strategic agreement with the EU police agency Europol on Tuesday. Israeli police chief Ronen Alsheich met the new Europol director Catherine De Bolle in The Hague for the signing ceremony. The Treaty provides for cooperation to combat cross-border crime. This includes cybercrime as well as fraud and terrorism. The 28 Member States can now also collaborate more closely with Israeli authorities. The participants exchange, for example, situation reports or trend analyses. Personal data are not covered by this agreement. Despite territorial clause: Europol starts police cooperation with Israel weiterlesen

EU funds the sacking of rescue ships in the Mediterranean

The European Union has mandated Italy to set up several maritime control centres in Libya. The Coast Guard and Maritime Police will be linked to European surveillance systems, the authorities will communicate directly with Frontex. The project costs 46 million euros and starts in July. But the Libyan Coast Guard has since long been connected to Italian counterparts.

According to media reports, as of last week Libya has an official sea rescue zone. This SAR region has therefore been officially notified by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Libya had already submitted such an application last summer, but withdrew due to a lack of prospects of success. With the support of the Italian Coast Guard, the Libyan authorities launched a new attempt in December, which is now said to have been approved by the IMO.

In order to set up an SAR region, the competent authorities must, among other things, designate a maritime rescue coordination centre (MRCC). The notified SAR regions and MRCC’s are officially available on a Canadian website, but there is no entry for Libya. In fact, it is unclear how the government in Tripoli will meet the IMO requirements. EU funds the sacking of rescue ships in the Mediterranean weiterlesen