German Countdown for armed drones

The majority of the population in Germany is against the acquisition of armed drones; nevertheless a contract to procure them may soon be signed. The Social Democratic Party can still prevent the deal.

Before June 15th, the German Ministry of Defense plans to sign a contract to lease seven weaponizable drones. The deadline for concluding the lease agreement that was offered last year has once again been extended. The Airbus Group, the arms company that is the prime contractor in the drone procurement deal, confirmed this to the German Ministry of Defense. The previously agreed-upon price of around 900 million Euros will still be honored.

Acquisition of the drones, which are produced by the Israeli manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries, will be among the most important of the new German military procurements. „German Countdown for armed drones“ weiterlesen

Dutch Review Committee sees shortcomings in cooperation between European secret services

The domestic secret services in Schengen states exchange real-time data on terrorism and operate a database of individuals. A Dutch review of the cooperation has revealed several deficits. The data protection commissioners in the member states involved thus need to work together to ensure oversight.

For almost two years, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has been cooperating with 29 European intelligence services on an “operational platform” in The Hague. The system belongs to the “Counter Terrorism Group” founded in 2001 by the “Club de Berne”, the informal group of domestic secret services of EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland. The services involved operate a real-time information system and a shared database. The focus is on Islamist terrorism. The authorities do not only cooperate virtually, but also send liaison officers to The Hague. „Dutch Review Committee sees shortcomings in cooperation between European secret services“ weiterlesen

Germany assists Tunisia with electronic border surveillance system

The German Ministry of Defence is supporting Tunisia in the development of an electronic border surveillance system. An already-existing barrier is now being extended along the Libyan border to the border town of Borj AI Khadra in the Sahara. The recipient of the initiative is the Tunisian military, while the overall project is planned in cooperation with the US government and is being implemented by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). The financial assistance received from Germany is vaguely stated by the government as a „double-digit million amount“. [1] „Germany assists Tunisia with electronic border surveillance system“ weiterlesen

New EU system for fingerprint identification activated

The Schengen Information System (SIS II) now also has a system for identifying people using fingerprints. After a two-year trial period, the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) was activated in March by the European Agency for the Operational Management of Large IT Systems (eu-LISA). This centrally located „fingerprint identification system“ can be searched, for example, as part of a police check. Every new entry stored in the  database is compared with the existing dactyloscopic data. The aim is to fight not only general crime but also the abuse of identities. „New EU system for fingerprint identification activated“ weiterlesen

More face recognition at the German Federal Criminal Police

The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is expanding its capabilities for biometric face recognition. For this purpose, the performance of the central face recognition system (GES), with which the BKA has been able to search its databases since 2008, is to be reviewed. The Office will then decide whether a new facial recognition system should be procured or whether the existing 2D system should be „upgraded“. The GES searches the electronic police information system at the BKA (known as INPOL), which currently contains over 4 million searchable photographs. The Federal Ministry of the Interior reported 26,879 searches for 2017 (2016: 23,064, 2015: 16,773). Until 2015, the BKA had participated in the „GES-3D“ project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. For the identification of people from photo and video data, ear recognition is also integrated. The aim of this study should be to switch to such a 3D system. „More face recognition at the German Federal Criminal Police“ weiterlesen

Sharp increase of secret alerts in the Schengen Information System

European police forces and secret services use SIS II for covert surveillance of persons and property. The authorities are informed about suspects’ itineraries and persons accompanying them. The EU interior ministries are now discussing the further expansion of this surveillance method. Hits could be reported to several or all member states.

Secret alerts are being issued for increasing numbers of people in the European Union. This emerged from the Federal Ministry of the Interior’s response to a written inquiry. According to that, 129,412 persons were placed under secret surveillance using the Schengen Information System (SIS II) last year. In 2016, this figure was around 80,000. No information is available regarding the reasons for this sharp increase. „Sharp increase of secret alerts in the Schengen Information System“ weiterlesen

Five million euros for Europol’s “decryption platform”

The EU is looking to improve its capabilities to circumvent and crack encryptions. Member states are to invest in hardware and software with Europol coordinating these efforts

The police agency Europol is set to receive a further 5 million euros to reinforce its capabilities with regard to decrypting content, as was reported by the European Commission in its Thirteenth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union. According to the report, the money will be set aside in the Europol budget for 2018. The Commission had already pledged these funds in its twelfth progress report, but did not disclose the amount until 24 January. Prior to this, the EU home affairs ministers had called for further support at their December meeting. „Five million euros for Europol’s “decryption platform”“ weiterlesen

EU migration control: easier access to satellite intelligence

Earth observation is playing an increasingly important role in European security and defence policy. Greater synergies are to be achieved between civil and military capabilities in future. This is being trialled in the field of migration control: satellites are providing information about refugees’ “hiding places”, among other things. The border agency Frontex is one of the organisations using this information.

The European Union is now making security-related information from satellite intelligence available using a software application named “GeohuB”. The tool was developed in the framework of the multi-level project “Geospatial Information to Support decision Making in Operations” (GISMO), launched in 2014. The agency responsible is the European Defence Agency (EDA). GeohuB is intended to facilitate geospatial intelligence. According to EDA, it covers “land, sea, airspace and cyber”. „EU migration control: easier access to satellite intelligence“ weiterlesen

Military intelligence for Europol

The EU plans to strengthen the linkages between its internal and external security structures. In future, military information will increasingly be used in combating terrorism and organised crime. Cooperation is being tested first in the field of migration.

The European Union is planning the establishment of „Crime Information Cells“ (CIC) for the exchange of data between the police, military and secret services. The intention of the players involved is to reinforce the „external dimension of internal security“. The “Crime Information Cells” would strengthen linkages between civil and military EU missions. This would apply to Common Security and Defence Policy missions (CSDP) and the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), which fall within the remit of the European External Action Service or European Commission. „Military intelligence for Europol“ weiterlesen

A seahorse for the Mediterranean: Border surveillance for Libyan search and rescue zone

Libya is to become the first third-state to join the EU’s satellite-supported “Seahorse Mediterranean” network. The Italian military is currently setting up the necessary control centres, to be followed by a new application for a search and rescue zone, supported by Italy. In the end, the Libyan coastguard is to coordinate all maritime search and rescue missions itself.

Shortly after Muammar Gaddafi‘s fall from power in 2011, the European Union attempted to incorporate Libyan border surveillance into European systems. Just one year later, rebels in the first post-revolution government signed a declaration with the intention of establishing maritime situation centres in the capital Tripoli and in Benghazi. The Libyan coastguard, which is part of the military, was to be linked with the Mediterranean Border Cooperation Centre (MEBOCC) in Rome. Libyan border guards would then have been provided with information from the European states bordering the Mediterranean in real time, in order to prevent refugees from crossing to Italy and Malta. „A seahorse for the Mediterranean: Border surveillance for Libyan search and rescue zone“ weiterlesen