EU language biometrics projects: research for police and intelligence services

Voice samples can be analysed in order to identify unknown persons in tapped telephone conversations, audio chats and video files. If the technology were applied to internet nodes, then it would be of particular interest to intelligence services.

The Speaker Identification Integrated Project (SIIP) on the use of speech biometrics by the police, co-financed by the European Union (EU), has successfully passed its final test. This was announced by the international police organisation Interpol in a press release. SIIP’s objective is to identify and locate “criminals and terrorists” through the analysis of their voices.

A total of 19 authorities, companies and institutes are involved in SIIP, including the Italian Ministry of Defence, the University of Groningen and the companies Nuance and Airbus. The police organisation Interpol, of which 190 states are members, is the intended end-user of the project. Other interested parties include the Italian Carabinieri, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the Portuguese Criminal Police and the British Metropolitan Police. The project is scheduled to be terminated until April 2018. Following tests in the field, the participants are now in the process of drafting their final report. „EU language biometrics projects: research for police and intelligence services“ weiterlesen

German police cooperation with Egypt: New security agreement takes effect

Matthias Monroy, Leil-Zahra Mortada

The German Federal Government expresses its concern about the human rights situation and crackdown on civil society in Egypt. Despite this fact, the two countries have begun to implement a new security cooperation agreement, and in August they concluded another agreement regarding cooperation in the area of migration. According to the Federal Foreign Office, these measures help promote the values and principles of the rule of law.

According to Amnesty International, at least 40,000 politically persecuted individuals are imprisoned in Egypt. The majority of them are members of the Muslim Brotherhood and are thus supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi, who was overthrown by military general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi three years ago. Civil rights and human rights groups, bloggers, journalists and lawyers are also being specifically persecuted. Now the Egyptian authorities are targeting the queer scene in Cairo. Since 22 September, the police have arrested dozens of LGBTQI activists – as well as people they perceive to be LGBTQI activists. The wave of arrests began after rainbow flags were waved in the audience at a concert by the Lebanese band Mashrou‘ Leila in Cairo. „German police cooperation with Egypt: New security agreement takes effect“ weiterlesen

How Europol is coordinating cross-border undercover investigations and surveillance

While the European Union has agencies for police and border police cooperation, it does not have own police powers of attorney. The same also applies to undercover observation and surveillance measures. The police agency Europol has played a most active role in this area nevertheless and has worked for years to interconnect relevant units and working groups from the member states.

Europol first organised an experts’ conference on undercover surveillance in 2008, holding a second conference in 2011. Prominent attendees included the European Cross-Border Surveillance Working Group (CSW), an alliance of a number of mobile task forces and comparable units from the member states, which was formed in 2005. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the CSW is investigating “the scope for deploying technical equipment in efforts to combat crime”. It is also addressing the question as to how “criminal activities and technical means to identify police measures” can be prevented. „How Europol is coordinating cross-border undercover investigations and surveillance“ weiterlesen

Social Control by Software: A criticism of Predictive Policing

Several German federal states are testing software for predicting crimes, others are already using it. The risk of „danger“ or the recidivism of offenders is also to be calculated. However, a reduction in crime with the help of computer forecasts cannot yet be proven reliably. Instead, the applications are loaded with prejudice.

Predictive policing is an attempt to calculate the probability of future crimes based on near-repeat theory or the assumption of repeat victimisation. Similar to the „Broken Windows“ theory, it is assumed that earlier delinquent actions are likely to be followed by others. Data on crime scene and time, prey and procedure are processed and weighted according to a certain procedure (scoring). Data mining is used to identify patterns and find serial offenders. „Social Control by Software: A criticism of Predictive Policing“ weiterlesen

Disappointing results for predictive policing

The Max Planck Institute in Freiburg does not see any proof of effectiveness for predictive policing in preventing home burglaries. Another study is expected next year from Hamburg.

So far, there has been no proof in Germany that so-called „predictive policing“ leads to crime rates being lowered in a particular area. Two investigations aim to shed light on this: one „study of new technologies for predicting home burglaries and their consequences for policing practice“ is currently underway at Hamburg University, however the project does not end until December 2018. In the meantime, evaluation of a predictive policing project in Baden-Württemberg by the Freiburg Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law has been completed. „Disappointing results for predictive policing“ weiterlesen

The West attempts hybrid resistance

The EU and NATO are training for their joint rapid response in the event of a crisis with three coordinated exercises. The simulated threat comes from Russia, hackers, the caliphate, immigrants and globalisation critics

On 1 September the European Union and NATO will start their shared „EU Parallel and Coordinated Exercise 2017“ (EU PACE17). This is according to a Council Documentpublished online by the British civil rights organisation Statewatch. The two alliances will test their crisis management structures over six weeks.

NATO is responsible for leading the exercise, the section organised by it is referred to as „NATO CMX17“. The NATO is also responsible for escalating hypothetical scenarios with daily „injections“. This also incorporates the „EU CYBRID 2017“ short cyber exercise, which will see EU defence ministers test the political reaction to cyber-attacks on 7 September in Tallinn, Estonia. „The West attempts hybrid resistance“ weiterlesen

Database on “European extremists”: How is the plan pursued since 2001 supposed to function?

After each major summit protest, there are calls for a European “troublemakers” database to be established. Centralised data storage at EU level or decentralised networking of national systems would be conceivable options. For a number of reasons, it has not been possible to set up a database of this kind since the turn of the millennium. The governing coalition in Germany has now announced a new initiative to this end following the G20 Summit in Hamburg.

Cooperation on summit events between European security authorities has been running like clockwork for more than 20 years. Police and intelligence services have exchanged information on threats and “individuals who pose a terrorist threat”, have assisted each another with personnel and equipment and seconded liaison officers. Shortly before such summits, the Schengen Agreement is partially suspended and border controls reintroduced while travel bans are imposed on undesirable protesters. „Database on “European extremists”: How is the plan pursued since 2001 supposed to function?“ weiterlesen

New data retention planned for border crossings of all European Union citizens

The European Union could soon save the date and place of each crossing of the EU’s external borders. Travellers’ identification documents would be read out and their biographical data saved along with information regarding border crossings. Police forces and intelligence services would have access to this data.

The European Commission published the final report of the High-Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability in May. According to this document, European border authorities could soon – unbeknownst to the travellers – be able to trawl through the travel routes of all nationals of EU member states. Alongside their biographical data, the system to be set up will log the direction in which borders are crossed. This new data repository on border crossings at all land, sea and air borders might form part of the Schengen Information System II (SIS II), which is the largest police and border authority database. Preference is being given to the establishment of an entirely new database, however. „New data retention planned for border crossings of all European Union citizens“ weiterlesen

“E-smuggling”: Europol steps up efforts against online-assisted migrant crossings

According to the EU police agency, in the past year 17,459 people operated as “human traffickers”. In the majority of cases, refugees and their facilitators communicate using Facebook or Telegram. Seizing of electronic evidence is thus to take on a greater role in investigations.

Last year, the EU police agency Europol received reports of 1,150 social media accounts apparently used by refugees to facilitate their entry into or travel through the European Union. This information is based on figures (PDF) published by the European Migrant Smuggling Center (EMSC) at Europol for 2016. The number of incriminated accounts in 2015 was just 148.

The report does not differentiate between humanitarian assistance for refugees and commercial offers. It is also unclear how many of the accounts were reported to the online providers to be removed. According to Europol, the rate of compliance with requests for deletion among companies was around 90 percent. „“E-smuggling”: Europol steps up efforts against online-assisted migrant crossings“ weiterlesen

Bundestag report finds flaws in the oversight of European intelligence services in The Hague

The Federal Ministry of the Interior is using every possible means to keep Parliament from learning details of the cooperation between European domestic intelligence services in The Hague. The official reason is an internal agreement between the services. Yet the Federal Government has an obligation to furnish parliamentarians with information, even when there is a legitimate interest in maintaining secrecy.

The Bundestag’s Research Services have produced an expert report on parliamentary oversight of European cooperation between the intelligence services. The background to this is the Federal Government’s continuing refusal to provide information about the activities in which Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution is engaging in The Hague.

The report indicates that this secretiveness is legally questionable. It states that, although the Federal Government is permitted to safeguard its interest in maintaining secrecy, it must also seek ways of meeting the parliamentarians’ need for information. „Bundestag report finds flaws in the oversight of European intelligence services in The Hague“ weiterlesen