Bundeswehr drone projects: further delays to Global Hawk, Euro Hawk and Triton

The US company Northrop Grumman is constructing several derivatives of the Global Hawk drone, including the Euro Hawk, which was once prized by the Bundeswehr, and its successor model Triton. NATO is procuring five Global Hawk drones, which are to be stationed in Sicily. They are scheduled to have initial capability from the end of 2017.

Five Global Hawk high-altitude drones are currently being procured and will be stationed in Sigonella, Sicily, as part of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) programme. These drones will be deployed for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes in the context of NATO missions. Their express focus is on flights in countries bordering Russia. All NATO member states are required to provide financial assistance for the programme to the tune of an estimated 70 million euros annually. The first procurement is only being financed by a handful of member states, however. The majority of the costs of around 1.45 billion euros is being met by the US (42 per cent), Germany (33 per cent) and Italy (15 per cent). The 13 countries involved in these procurements include the three Baltic states, as well as Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. „Bundeswehr drone projects: further delays to Global Hawk, Euro Hawk and Triton“ weiterlesen

German Federal Criminal Police trains secret services in Egypt on monitoring „extremism“ on the Internet

The Federal Ministry of the Interior is stepping up its cooperation with Egypt in spite of persecution against the opposition, abuse, torture and death sentences. What is more, the Federal Criminal Police Office is cooperating with two notorious intelligence services. The focus here is on “extremism” and “terrorism”, two labels that have been used to justify the incarceration of activists, bloggers, journalists, lawyers and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is training Egyptian security authorities on Internet surveillance with a range of measures. The Federal Ministry of the Interior disclosed this information in its reply to a minor interpellation, according to which a further workshop on “monitoring websites” is scheduled to take place in December. The focus is on websites “that are abused by terrorists in order to disseminate their extremist ideology and to plan terrorist attacks”. No information has been provided on which forms and instruments are being used for monitoring purposes. The training measures also include financial investigations into bank accounts and transfers. „German Federal Criminal Police trains secret services in Egypt on monitoring „extremism“ on the Internet“ weiterlesen

New powers for the German Federal Police: undercover agents to combat unwanted migration

In the future, the Federal Police will also be able to deploy undercover agents. The provision is part of the new “Act to Improve Information Exchange in the Fight Against International Terrorism”, which the Grand Coalition adopted on 24 June 2016 and the parliamentary groups of the opposition voted against.

The version amended by the Committee on Internal Affairs which was finally adopted states that the deployment of undercover agents has now become “indispensible and long overdue” [1] for the central policing duties the Federal Police has assumed for 20 years now. In the debate over the bill, the President of the Federal Police, Dieter Romann, also spoke out. In a statement submitted late[2] he cited the phenomenon of “illegal migration” as justification for the need for statutory undercover threat-prevention powers. He stated that the Federal Police was no longer in a position to sufficiently counter the tactics of “smuggler organisations” “using traditional, conventional methods”. “People smugglers” acted “highly conspiratorially, with division of labour, shielding themselves from police actions to a large degree”. Witnesses and victims, he claimed, were “intimidated with violence or coerced into giving false evidence”. “The most deaths”, he said, were in the area of organised crime, which “illegal people smuggling” is subsumed under. For this reason the preventive deployment of undercover agents by the Federal Police was a “tactical requirement”. This included, he went on, “discretionary investigations”. Such a possibility existed in almost all of the police laws of the Länder, or federal states, (with the exception of Schleswig-Holstein) and in the Federal Criminal Police Office Act and had proven successful. „New powers for the German Federal Police: undercover agents to combat unwanted migration“ weiterlesen

The United Kingdom will have to withdraw from Europol by next spring

The Treaty of Amsterdam gives the United Kingdom the right to decide on its involvement in EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case-by-case basis (opt-in/opt-out). Alongside police and judicial cooperation on criminal matters, this applies to the external borders, asylum, migration and cooperation on civil matters. Thus, the United Kingdom opted out of the Blue Card Directive, the Directive on the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents and the Directive on the return of third-country nationals, for example. This means that the authorities cannot access the Visa Information System.

At the same time, however, the British government benefits from individual legislative acts to combat and prevent undesired migration. British authorities are not part of Frontex, yet take part in Frontex measures via bilateral agreements (e.g. joint deportations). „The United Kingdom will have to withdraw from Europol by next spring“ weiterlesen

Bundeswehr armed drones will be equipped with Israeli missiles and use German encryption

Airbus is to be the prime contractor for the German-Israeli drone deal. The company will then own 13 old and new Heron drones for the Bundeswehr’s use. The arming of the drones would be guaranteed from the spring of 2019. Now a competitor, US drone manufacturer General Atomics, has lodged a complaint with the federal public procurement tribunal.

The armed German drones will be delivered with the Israeli manufacturer’s usual munitions, the Federal Government revealed in its answer to a Minor Interpellation. The Heron TP drones are to be equipped with the weapons which are integrated into the system by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for the Israeli Air Force. IAI itself produces laser-guided air-to-surface missiles, for example.

Until now, it was unclear whether the five planned drones would be equipped with guided bombs or missiles produced by European manufacturers. According to the Federal Government’s most recent answer, this was not considered at any point in time, and so no market surveys or studies were carried out. „Bundeswehr armed drones will be equipped with Israeli missiles and use German encryption“ weiterlesen

About the exposure of three undercover policewomen in Hamburg

In three successive years, undercover policewomen from the Hamburg Criminal Police Office have been unmasked by activists. Their assignments included cases with international connections.

At least two of the officers also maintained sexual or intimate relationships with their targets or informers. This was the subject of several meetings of Hamburg’s internal-affairs authorities and of internal police enquiries.[1] „About the exposure of three undercover policewomen in Hamburg“ weiterlesen

Airbus arms firm leads consortium for European long-range armed drone project

The German Ministry of Defence has named Airbus as the main contractor for a two-year study for a European long-range armed drone. The contract is due to be signed before the summer recess, and work is to begin in September. The total cost of the project exceeds one billion euros.

The German Federal Ministry of Defence is fleshing out the procurement plans for armable long-range drones. Under the direction of Airbus Defence and Space (ADAS), a division of the Airbus group, an initial definition study for a ‘European MALE RPAS’ is to be conducted. The abbreviations stand for ‘medium-altitude long-endurance’ and ‘remotely piloted aircraft system’, which describe the drone and its guidance and reconnaissance-data processing systems. „Airbus arms firm leads consortium for European long-range armed drone project“ weiterlesen

First child pornography, now extremism: Internet providers and police investigation authorities to use Microsoft upload filters

Material uploaded onto the Web could soon be scanned for extremist or radicalising content with an upload filter produced by Microsoft. The filter would be installed in the systems of Internet service providers (ISPs), but the necessary databases could be held by the police authorities.

Two weeks ago in Washington, the international Counter Extremism Project presented a software solution with which extremist content is said to be detectable on upload. The process is based on PhotoDNA, an application originally developed by Microsoft to combat child pornography. It is able to detect video and audio content. The recognition rate is reportedly in the region of 98%.

PhotoDNA operates on the principle known as ‘robust hashing’ and extracts a distinct digital signature from the file. With the checksum, the software is then able to recognise images even if they have been distorted or post-edited. The comparison is made with a hash database, which is administered either by ISPs or by both ISPs and public authorities. In the United States, for example, PhotoDNA makes use of the database of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, also maintains a Child Sexual Exploitation Image Database. „First child pornography, now extremism: Internet providers and police investigation authorities to use Microsoft upload filters“ weiterlesen

International investigative bureau in Vienna to combat “migrant smuggling”

On 4 May 2016, the Austrian Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Sobotka opened the “Joint Operational Office against Human Smuggling Networks” (JOO) in Vienna. In a statement, the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior stated that the institution was an “international investigative bureau against human smuggling”. The centre has an initial complement of 38 staff members, Europol intends to second additional personnel. It is intended to be a point of contact for investigations of authorities also from the migrants’ countries of origin.

According to the German Ministry of Interior, the JOO is formed within the Sub-Department “Trafficking in Human Beings and Human Smuggling” at the Federal Criminal Police Office in Vienna. Authorities from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, the UK, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia and Slovakia, as well as Europol and Frontex, support the JOO as “members”. Legal basis of the JOO is the Police Cooperation Convention for South East Europe (PCC-SEE) with police personnel from the Balkan region and EU countries. „International investigative bureau in Vienna to combat “migrant smuggling”“ weiterlesen

New Europol regulation due to enter into force from May 2017 – oversight is likely to remain superficial

On 1 May 2017, the new regulation on Europol will enter into force. The compromise agreed on in the framework of the trilogue procedure lays down new more detailed provisions on oversight of the activities of Europol by the European Parliament.

Article 88 (2), sentence 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for the national Parliaments to be more closely involved with this scrutiny. Article 51 of the regulation mentions the establishment of a Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group (JPSG). The European Parliament had lobbied hard during the trilogue procedure to achieve this. The Group is to consist of Members of the European Parliament and the national Parliaments. Yet it is unclear how this will work in practice. „New Europol regulation due to enter into force from May 2017 – oversight is likely to remain superficial“ weiterlesen