Loitering munition: Rheinmetall sells first kamikaze drones to NATO state

In the present wars, the military is increasingly using remote-controlled warheads. The German defence ministry calls such weapons „worrying“. But after similar plans a decade ago, the Bundeswehr is again considering to procure them.

For the first time, the arms manufacturer Rheinmetall has won an order for its loitering munition. According to a press release from last September, the unnamed customer is a special forces unit of a NATO state. Rheinmetall states the value of the order to be in the „single-digit million euro range“. Delivery is scheduled until 2023.

The NATO buyer, which according to speculation could be Hungary, has ordered the HERO-30. This is the smallest version of the HERO family of „loiter-capable munitions“, which can circle over their target for up to 30 minutes. It is launched from a tube using compressed air, unfolds its pivoting wings in flight and is powered by a silent electric motor. „Loitering munition: Rheinmetall sells first kamikaze drones to NATO state“ weiterlesen

Criticism over research: EU Commission funds platform to predict „migration flows“

In an Open Letter, eleven organisations criticise the creation of an infrastructure for predictive migration technologies. The tool, which is also supposed to anticipate „tensions“, is based on „artificial intelligence“. It could therefore contradict a forthcoming EU regulation.

To prevent or at least control unwanted migration, the European Union has various tools at its disposal to support its member states. Central to this is the border agency Frontex, which monitors the EU external borders with satellites, aircraft and drones. Frontex also conducts regular reconnaissance of the „pre-frontier area“ far from European shores. With 30 African states, the agency has started its own network for this purpose, which also processes intelligence information.

Now the EU Commission wants to go one step further. With the help of data from various sources, a so-called EUMigraTool is to predict and control „migration flows“ in Europe. The modelling and prediction is to be carried out using „deep learning“. In its first stage, theEUMigraTool is not intended to support the deterrence, but the reception, resettlement and relocation of refugees. Several civil society organisations and individuals nevertheless demand in an open letter that the project be stopped. „Criticism over research: EU Commission funds platform to predict „migration flows““ weiterlesen

„Wicked problem“: Europol considers vulnerability exploitation to break encryption

At a conference hosted by the EU police agency, three ways to decrypt communications and storage media were discussed. One of the approaches was apparently pushed by the Bavarian State Office of Criminal Investigation.

For at least seven years, EU member states have been looking for ways to give their law enforcement agencies access to encrypted content. Time and again, the Council, which consists of the 27 governments, has stressed the importance of encryption for secure communications and supposedly ruled out backdoors. Like the EU Commission, the EU states instead relied on infecting mobile phones with governmental spyware to read encrypted messenger services. The encryption of seized devices or storage media, on the other hand, was planned to be broken with the help of supercomputers.

But now the establishment of a common vulnerability management is back on the agenda of European police and judicial authorities. Under the leadership of the EU police agency Europol, about 70 participants discussed a possible „EU policy“ in this area – for example, whether security vulnerabilities in software should not be reported immediately to the manufacturers, but should be exploited for the programming of state spying tools. This is according to the transcript of a conference of the „EU Innovation Hub for Internal Security“ published by the British civil liberties organisation Statewatch. At the end of a „Round Table on Encryption“, those responsible had assured that they wanted to tackle the „wicked problem“ at EU level. „„Wicked problem“: Europol considers vulnerability exploitation to break encryption“ weiterlesen

Border surveillance: Frontex installs cameras in the stratosphere

With high-altitude platforms, the EU border agency aims to close the gap between its planes, drones and satellites.

Frontex could in future have high-flying platforms deployed for surveillance from the stratosphere. In this way, the European Border Agency wants to close the gap between aircraft and satellites, which are already used for border surveillance. A corresponding research project is to begin on 1 October 2022 and last 36 months, the EU Commission announced in its answer to a parliamentary question. Accordingly, the EU financial support amounts to around €5.8 million.

The EU Commission had already published a call for tenders for so-called high-altitude platforms working on behalf of Frontex a year ago. Now the Commission has published details of the plans on its website. Accordingly, the contract for an „advanced surveillance platform to improve the EURopean Multi Authority BordeR Security efficiency and cooperation“ (EURMARS) was awarded to a consortium of 16 companies, ministries, authorities and institutes from 12 Member States. „Border surveillance: Frontex installs cameras in the stratosphere“ weiterlesen

Artificial intelligence for border surveillance: Greece tests autonomous drone swarms

Despite repeatedly documented human rights abuses, the EU is funding new technology to monitor its external border with Turkey.

No European state is as suspected as Greece of violating human rights and international law in its control of the EU’s external borders. Greek border troops use force to drag refugees back into the strait with Turkey without granting them the right to apply for asylum. At sea, as well as on the border river Evros, people in emergency situations are left to fend for themselves or even pushed into the water.

Now the Greek authorities are researching new methods to detect border crossings from the air. This will involve the use of drones that will take over tasks for border surveillance and law enforcement with the help of „real-time artificial intelligence“. The project is called REACTION and researches technologies for land border surveillance. Details of the project were presented by the Greek Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, at a trade fair in Thessaloniki earlier this month. „Artificial intelligence for border surveillance: Greece tests autonomous drone swarms“ weiterlesen

Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed

So far, only EU states and Europol are allowed to access databases at Interpol, but soon Frontex and the new public prosecutor’s office will be allowed to do so as well. The EU Parliament has drawn red lines for the negotiations.

As an intergovernmental organisation, Interpol aims to facilitate international police cooperation in the field of terrorism and serious crime. With 195 member countries, it is the largest organisation of its kind in the world, run by the General Secretariat in Lyon, France. However, it is an informal, i.e. private association, because Interpol is not linked to any other international organisation.

Interpol already cooperates with law enforcement agencies of the European Union at various levels and in various projects, including „integrated border management“ in addition to the organisation’s actual areas of responsibility. This cooperation is now to be carried out under a new agreement. The EU Commission already presented a proposal for this in the spring of last year. However, the negotiations are at a standstill. „Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed“ weiterlesen

Copyright infringement: Radio Dreyeckland issues a warning to secret service

Once again, a domestic secret service has used a photo without asking the rights holders for permission. In the Freiburg case, this also discredits journalism. The interference of the agency in the formation of political will is also critical.

The popular Radio Dreyeckland was successful with a warning against the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Without asking for the necessary permission, the domestic secret service had used a picture to illustrate an article and must therefore pay €1,500. This was confirmed to netzpolitik.org by the Berlin lawyer David Werdermann, who represents the Freiburg-based radio station.

The warning was about a picture by freelance journalist Julian Rzepa that Radio Dreyeckland had previously published on its website. It shows a demonstration on the occasion of a house eviction on 11 December 2021 in Freiburg city centre. At www.rdl.de it was clearly marked „all rights reserved“. „Copyright infringement: Radio Dreyeckland issues a warning to secret service“ weiterlesen

Cooperation with Turkey: Selenskyj awards medal for combat drones

With the „TB2“, Turkey is becoming a worldwide drone power, now Ukraine is supposed to help in doubling the production.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj awarded the CEO of the Turkish defence company Baykar Makina the „Order of Merit First Class“ on Friday. The award went to Haluk Bayraktar, the brother of Turkish businessman Selçuk Bayraktar.

The company of the two has been producing the eponymous combat drone „TB2“ since 2014, which is being ordered by more and more states worldwide. Ukraine also received its first delivery last year, and the systems were subsequently used against the Russian invasion. There, they ensured successes at the beginning of the war, including, for example, the recapture of the Russian-occupied Snake Island. „Cooperation with Turkey: Selenskyj awards medal for combat drones“ weiterlesen

German Air Force in Afghanistan and Mali: Drone operator talks on his severe trauma

For the first time, a German „Master of a Drone System“ reports heavy stress disorders and depression just from watching from the air. With the upcoming introduction of armed drones, the phenomenon is likely to get worse.

After about a decade of „drone debate“, the German Bundestag decided in April to arm drones for the Bundeswehr. Beforehand, the Ministry of Defence had invited a few critical voices to hearings, in addition to many supporters. Among other things, they warned of the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for pilots, but especially for the personnel operating the sensor technology. This was also reported by former members of US drone squadrons – but outside the official events of the German Ministry of Defence, which deliberately refrained from inviting them.

The 45 year old André Hassan Khan is the first German Armed Forces drone operator to speak out about his PTSD, which he says has taken a severe course. Since its introduction twelve years ago, he has operated the optical and radar-based cameras of the Israeli Heron 1 reconnaissance drone with the air force in Afghanistan and later in Mali. Khan is a „Tactical Operator Master of a Drone System“. That is the name of the training course at Tactical Air Force Squadron 51 „Immelmann“ in Schleswig-Holstein, which operates the Bundeswehr drones. „German Air Force in Afghanistan and Mali: Drone operator talks on his severe trauma“ weiterlesen

Equipment and training: Germany supports police build-up in Croatia

The Croatian police are known for their brutality and human rights violations at the country’s external borders, yet the German governments continues to train them. Number plate scanners, thermal imaging cameras and vehicles could be used for pushbacks in violation of international law.

Croatia has been an official member of the European Union since 2013. Until then, the Western Balkan state has received the usual financial „pre-accession aid“ to get fit for joining the Schengen area. However, the country is still denied full application of the Schengen acquis because of concerns raised by France and the Netherlands about the lack of rule of law. Therefore, internal border controls with neighbouring EU states Slovenia and Hungary continue.

However, one reason for the blockade of full Schengen application by individual EU members could also be Croatia’s function as a bulwark on the so-called „Balkan route“. Many refugees cross the country to reach wealthier EU states and apply for asylum there. Maintaining internal border controls with its northern neighbours could make this unwanted migration more difficult. „Equipment and training: Germany supports police build-up in Croatia“ weiterlesen