North and Baltic Sea: German authority orders EU drone surveillance

In several projects, the German Federal Police is testing drones in maritime environments. So far, the unmanned aircrafts have to fly in restricted areas, but soon they could be integrated into civil airspace. The Ministry of Transportation, which responsible for this, is now asking the European Union to provide drone flights.

The German Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) has requested drone flights from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). In coordination with the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), to which the BSH is accountable. The BMVI is now providing details in its response to a parliamentary question.

Accordingly, it is a three-month test phase which is intended to supplement the BSH’s ship exhaust gas measurement network. The authority will use it to examine the gas plumes of passing ships and calculate the fuel sulfur content, which in Germany may only contain 0.1 percent.The drones should also map tidal flats and shallow water areas. The ministry is not writing whether this is done for the construction of further offshore facilities. „North and Baltic Sea: German authority orders EU drone surveillance“ weiterlesen

Corona and the situation of refugees in Germany

Restrictions on movement and contact, border closures, travel bans – the Covid 19 pandemic also means considerable limitations on civil liberties and fundamental rights in Germany. Many measures, however, particularly affect refugees.

On 16 March the European Union closed its external borders. Although the application for asylum was supposed to be one of the exceptions to entry permits, de facto the official border crossings for asylum seekers remained largely insurmountable. The EU is also stepping up the surveillance at „green“ and „blue“ borders. The border agency Frontex has suspended some of its operations, for example in the Western Balkans, because of the Corona crisis. But on the other hand, Frontex has extended its missions in Greece, which has seen a high number of arrivals of refugees due to tensions with Turkey, by two „Rapid Border Interventions“ at the Evros border river and in the Aegean Sea. At the beginning of April, the governments involved also suspended the „Malta deal“ for sea rescue in the central Mediterranean. Rescued persons are no longer being redistributed to the states willing to receive them; this affects a total of 731 refugees, most of whom were supposed to come to Germany. Malta and Italy completely closed their ports to private rescue vessels a little later, only with much public pressure could 150 rescued persons from the German ship „Alan Kurdi“ disembark in Malta in mid-April, most of the others were brought back by the Libyan coast guard – even from waters for which Malta is responsible. „Corona and the situation of refugees in Germany“ weiterlesen

Refusal from London: British problems in the Schengen Information System remain

Following a decision by the Council, the government in Great Britain has to work through a long list of shortcomings regarding participation in Europe’s largest police database. Although most omissions are even classified as serious and should therefore be rectified „without delay“, the British Home Office remains stubborn. Actually, such cases should lead to a decoupling.

The British government does not want to repair several errors in the national implementation of the Schengen Information System (SIS). The EU Commission had called for 34 shortcomings to be remedied, but according to a now published note from Brussels, Britain is only following six of these recommendations. Among the persistent shortcomings are the creation of copies of the SIS or the lack of assistance in searches from the associated Schengen countries. Measures such as making the SIS easier to use or the installation of a screen so that the contents of the screen cannot be viewed during a border check have however been implemented. „Refusal from London: British problems in the Schengen Information System remain“ weiterlesen

EU opens its biggest database for secret services from third countries

In the Schengen Information System, police and secret services may, inter alia, issue alerts for secret monitoring. Authorities from non-EU states can now have searches carried out via a detour. The German government remains silent about the exact role of its own secret service.

The Schengen Information System (SIS) is the largest European database, which has been used for 25 years by border, police, customs or immigration authorities and secret services. Today’s SIS II involves 26 EU Member States (all except Ireland and Cyprus) as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. As of 1 January 2020, more than 90 million people and objects were stored. Most of the entries, which increase every year, come from Italy, followed by France and Germany. The number of searches is also growing rapidly, with almost seven billion of them reported last year. That is about 220 searches per second.

Each Member State is responsible for the accuracy of its entries and must respect deadlines for deletion. Information that is stored in SIS II may also come from third countries, which is part of the normal practice of police forces and secret services. Last year, however, the European Union launched a pilot project to extend these entries to selected „trusted third countries“ and to find a uniform procedure for handling them. „EU opens its biggest database for secret services from third countries“ weiterlesen

Significantly more facial recognition at German police

Queries of biometric photographs in the INPOL file are increasing drastically; at the Federal Police they have more than tripled in comparison with the previous year. Face recognition is also becoming increasingly successful, with twice as many people being identified as in 2018.

In public spaces, police authorities in Germany do not use facial recognition in real time, but retrospectively. The technology is intended to identify unknown persons whose photos were taken by video surveillance, for example, near crime scenes. After the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017, the police there also wanted to determine suspected criminals with facial recognition, but the success was poor.

The biometric facial images with which the photos of unknown persons are compared are stored in the police database INPOL-Z. Although it is centrally managed by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), it is operated together with the state criminal investigation offices. The Federal Police can also access it. The number of photographs stored with personal data in INPOL has once again risen significantly, with around 5.8 million portrait photographs of 3.65 million people. Compared to 2018, the increase is about five percent (310,000 photos). „Significantly more facial recognition at German police“ weiterlesen

SPECTRE Project: EU finances technology for undercover investigations

Police forces from 34 countries have been investigating criminal networks in South Eastern Europe since 2017, money comes from the Internal Security Fund of the European Union. In addition to all kinds of espionage and wiretapping technology, they also pay informers.

For undercover investigations, European police forces use miniaturized surveillance technology, but usually remain extremely secretive about how it works. Since 2017, spy cameras, pocket microphones, mini drones and other equipment have also been procured through an EU project. This is why the European Commission had to provide details of the small devices in response to a parliamentary question. „SPECTRE Project: EU finances technology for undercover investigations“ weiterlesen

A virus called control: The suspension of constitutional rights in Germany

Is the suspension of constitutional rights for the whole of society to counter the new corona virus justified? The freedom to assemble without registration or permission under Article 8 of the German Constitution has been replaced since 20 March by a complete ban with the reservation of permission. Health authorities now have the final say on demonstrations or rallies in accordance with the „SARS-CoV-2 containment regulations“.

For one month, most of the Federal States have prohibited protests in any form, including bicycle demonstrations and autocorsos. The public medical officers also did not care if registrants promised to respect distance rules and to wear face masks. Last week, the highest German court clarified on 15 April that this is not proportionate. „A virus called control: The suspension of constitutional rights in Germany“ weiterlesen

Nouvelle unité de police franco-allemande

La Police Fédérale allemande (Bundespolizei) et la Gendarmerie Nationale ont instauré une „Unité opérationnelle franco-allemande“ (DFEE/UOFA). L‘arrangement pour une telle troupe avait été lancé dans le cadre du contrat d‘Aix-la-Chapelle. Les détails sont réglés dans une convention administrative.

L‘unité est dédiée aux interventions dans des „états-tiers francophones“, durant de grands évenements et dans la „zone frontalière commune“. Pour l‘instant la UOFA est composée de dix membres de la police fédérale allemande et de dix membres de la Gendarmerie. Au cours de cette année, elle doit être étendue à 15 membres de chaque pays. Du côté allemand, les polici·ères viendraient de la caserne de Bad Bergzabern en Rhénanie-Palatinat. „Nouvelle unité de police franco-allemande“ weiterlesen

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“. „Corona controls: German police use drones“ weiterlesen

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