German ANOM investigations: The mysterious EU third state

The FBI had a crypto-messenger programmed that was fully intercepted. For legal reasons, the US authority received the intercepted communication via detours. Because of „hearsay court orders“, its use in German criminal proceedings is questionable.

Ever since the encrypted messenger service EncroChat was hacked by authorities from France and the Netherlands in March 2020, investigative proceedings have been piling up at law enforcement agencies across Europe. Millions of chat messages have been transmitted via Europol to the relevant authorities in EU member states for follow-up. Almost every day, therefore, there are new raids, arrests or convictions in Germany as well.

Although the hack was presumably carried out by a French secret service and involved mass surveillance without any reason, the German Federal Supreme Court – unlike some regional courts before it – recently allowed the use of EncroChat data as evidence in Germany in principle. This was because the information had been collected by France, i.e. an EU member state, and passed on within the framework of European mutual legal assistance. The countries participating in this set of rules were to be trusted in principle. „German ANOM investigations: The mysterious EU third state“ weiterlesen

Hypersonic weapons: All the hype about the new technology

Russia’s military had deployed a new offensive weapon, the Kinshal, for the first time. It is the harbinger of a new arms race in which China and North Korea are also leading the way.

Three weeks ago, the Russian air force attacked the village of Delyatin in western Ukraine with a Kinzhal („Dagger“) hypersonic missile, and another attack took place in the south of the country in the Mikolayiv region. So much for the undisputed facts; opinions differ as to whether an underground weapons depot was really hit in the west and a fuel depot in the south, and whether the Kinzhal is indeed a wonder weapon.

But it is also true that this was the first time the missile was used in combat operations after Russian President Vladimir Putin proudly presented it four years ago. The two hits were probably also intended as a gesture of superiority with regard to NATO missile defence. Putin thus made good on his threatening gesture that Russian hypersonic weapons would „hit like a meteorite, like a fireball“. „Hypersonic weapons: All the hype about the new technology“ weiterlesen

Germany: Mobile phones as a tracking bug

With silent SMS, cell site analysis and IMSI catchers, authorities can pinpoint the location of a mobile device to within a few metres.

Last year, the German Federal Criminal Police sent about 68,000 silent SMS in 33 cases (one of which was a danger aversion case), which is a significant increase compared to preceding years. The Federal Police sent around 48,000 silent text messages in 56 criminal proceedings, which is roughly the average of past years. This is stated in the answer to a parliamentary question by the Left Party in the Bundestag. „Germany: Mobile phones as a tracking bug“ weiterlesen

Digital justice: German state of Baden-Württemberg launches „electronic criminal file“

From 2026, electronic legal transactions should be possible completely without paper, but this could cause problems for defendants in custody.

Criminal investigations sometimes involve various police and judicial authorities, and the resulting files can contain stacks of paper several metres thick. Many documents exist in digital form and are still printed out for the files. The German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg is now the first to introduce an „electronic criminal record“. It is intended to facilitate the exchange between the authorities involved, as Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Minister of Justice Marion Gentges (CDU) announced at the presentation of the project called „eStrafakte“ in Ulm on Tuesday. According to a projection, 50,000 sheets of paper arrive in the post office of the police headquarters there alone every day. „Digital justice: German state of Baden-Württemberg launches „electronic criminal file““ weiterlesen

Turkey prepares for world’s first aircraft carrier with drones

The government in Ankara wants to become the fourth naval power in the Mediterranean, and after being kicked out of the „F35“ programme, the navy is turning to drones. Russia, however, could attack key production facilities.

The Turkish defence company Baykar Makina has begun manufacturing the first prototype of an unmanned combat aircraft, which is due to make its maiden flight next year. The announcement on Twitter comes from the company’s head Selçuk Bayraktar and refers to the „National Unmanned Combat Aircraft System“ (MIUS), which Baykar Makina has been developing for almost four years as the „Kızılelma“ („red apple“). The aircraft is said to have a take-off weight of over five tonnes and to be able to carry a payload of 1.5 tonnes. Baykar Makina claims endurance of five hours, with the prototype reaching speeds of up to 800 km/h. Later models are expected to fly at supersonic speeds.

The jet-powered „Kızılelma“ has stealth capability and is controlled via a satellite link. It is supposed to be able to carry out a variety of military actions, including attacks on enemy units on the ground, taking out air defence positions and flying in a swarm in „manned-unmanned-teaming“ with manned fighter jets. Arming with cruise missiles with a range of more than 250 kilometres will also be possible, according to Baykar Makina, and for aerial combat the unmanned aircraft would be equipped with domestic air-to-air missiles. „Turkey prepares for world’s first aircraft carrier with drones“ weiterlesen

Screening of travellers: U.S. wants to query fingerprint databases in Europe

To participate in the Visa Waiver Programme, Israel allows U.S. authorities access to its biometric data. The government in Washington wants to make this mandatory for another 40 countries.

The US government has sent a letter to EU member states announcing an Enhanced Border Security Partnership (EBSP). This would regulate access to fingerprint databases by US border authorities. It would be a condition for countries whose nationals can enter the United visa-free.

The German government also received such a notification via the U.S. Embassy in Berlin on 9 February, the Social Democratic Party-led Ministry of the Interior confirmed in its answer to a parliamentary question. „Essentially, among other things, this is probably intended to enable the exchange of biometric data, among other things of travellers,“ the ministry writes somewhat nebulously, adding that further details are currently being clarified. The regulation is to apply from 2027, it says. „Screening of travellers: U.S. wants to query fingerprint databases in Europe“ weiterlesen

Information systems at Europol: Fishing the „data lake“ with a new dragnet

The EU police agency has completely restructured its information systems. German authorities are by far the main users for storage and query. Through a parliamentary question, the successor of Palantir software at Europol is now known.

The European Police Agency in The Hague has various databases, the largest of which is the centralised „Europol Information System“ (EIS). There, police forces of member states put suspects, convicts or „potential“ future criminals when the offences in question fall within Europol’s remit. These include serious or organised crime and terrorism.

For this, personal data, national insurance numbers and telephone numbers, e-mail or IP addresses, evidence can be stored in the EIS, including searchable facial images, non-coding DNA data and fingerprints. The member States retain ownership of the data they transfer, national authorities can determine the purpose for which it is used and set restrictions. „Information systems at Europol: Fishing the „data lake“ with a new dragnet“ weiterlesen

Amendment of SIS II Regulation: Europol to coordinate proposals for alerts from third countries

The EU police agency is to receive lists of persons from foreign authorities and then have them alerted in the Schengen area for refusal of entry, arrest or observation. This legalises a questionable procedure that has long been practised.

Can the US FBI put a Tunisian national on a European database for refusal of entry, even if there is no proof that he belongs to a terrorist organisation as claimed? Should it be permissible for Europol to initiate such alerts even at the behest of an intelligence service from Serbia or Egypt, so that the person concerned is arrested when crossing the border into the Schengen area?

It is certain that the Schengen Information System (SIS II) will soon be supplemented by such a regulation. However, it was disputed between the EU Parliament and the Member States in the Council what role Europol should play in mediating such searches for third-country nationals. Tomorrow, the so-called trilogue negotiations are to be concluded with a consensus between Council and Parliament; after their formal decision in the competent bodies, the regulation would then be valid as of summer. „Amendment of SIS II Regulation: Europol to coordinate proposals for alerts from third countries“ weiterlesen

First deployment on the edge of a war zone: EU sends Frontex to Moldova

In just a few days, the Republic of Moldova could command units of the EU border force, the deployment is already being prepared. However, a status agreement currently being negotiated with the government in Chisinau would have to exclude operations in Transnistria, where Russia has stationed military forces.

The EU Commission and the member states in the Council want to conclude a so-called status agreement with the government of the Republic of Moldova in an urgent procedure. Subsequently, the EU border agency Frontex is to send units for „migration management“ to the border with Ukraine there. This is according to the Commission’s press release of yesterday, Thursday.

Both the Commission and the Council are working at full speed on the planned deployment, and only yesterday the ambassadors of all EU member states were informed about it in a special meeting. Before negotiations for a status agreement with Moldova can begin, the Council must give the Commission a mandate to that effect. The Commission has submitted a proposal for this in an urgent procedure. „First deployment on the edge of a war zone: EU sends Frontex to Moldova“ weiterlesen

DNA, facial images and fingerprints: German biometric police systems contain 10 million people

Police authorities are increasingly requesting biometric data, more and more often with success. The search is carried out in German and European information systems. However, the results are not always trustworthy.

Since 2008, German police forces have been able to search biometric photographs in the INPOL file at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). For this purpose, the authorities use a facial recognition system (GES), which is also made available via the BKA. Currently, about 5.5 million portrait images of 3.6 million persons are stored there for search purposes. This is what the Federal Ministry of the Interior writes in its answer to a parlamentarian question by the Left Party. In addition to the BKA, the Federal Police and the State Criminal Police Offices can also use the GES. In 2021, the authorities made a total of 90,425 queries there, an increase of about 20 per cent compared to 2020. 4,990 persons were identified, compared to 4,403 the year before. „DNA, facial images and fingerprints: German biometric police systems contain 10 million people“ weiterlesen