So far, German authorities can only notify mobile phones of an impending disaster if their owners have registered beforehand. Soon it will be possible to warn all phones within a certain radius. It is questionable who will decide whether to send such a message.
The German government is another step closer to introducing the „Cell Broadcast“ warning system. Yesterday, the Federal Cabinet agreed on a „formulation aid“ to amend the Telecommunications Act (TKG). If it is passed by the Bundestag, all mobile phones that are logged into a certain mobile phone cell can be warned of an impending event with a text message. The system is not tied to specific phone numbers, but the reception of „cell broadcast“ messages must be activated manually on some mobile phones.
The standard of „Cell Broadcast“ is defined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), in which worldwide standardisation bodies have joined forces. Accordingly, the service, which was initially only available in GSM networks, can now also be used with LTE and 5G. „Cell Broadcast“ messages can only comprise a maximum of 93 characters. The latest specification extends this to 1,395 characters by sending a total of 15 continuous messages of 93 characters. In addition, the mobile phone emits an alarm tone and vibrates even if it is muted. „Germany: Further step towards the introduction of „Cell Broadcast““ weiterlesen
European police authorities are invited to submit proposals for the development of an interception platform. Authorities from third countries can also participate in the research project. Several German initiatives, including those of the domestic secret service, served as door openers.
The EU Commission announces new efforts to break end-to-end encrypted communications. This is according to the work programme of the Horizon 2020 research framework programme, which proposes numerous new projects in the area of „Civil Security for Society“ for the next two years. According to this, the Commission wants to spend five million euros on a platform for penetrating encrypted telephony.
The focus is on intercepting connections of the fifth mobile phone generation, which makes encrypted and anonymised connections technically possible. The project in the research line „Fighting crime and terrorism“ is therefore entitled „Lawful interception using new and emerging technologies (5G & beyond, quantum computing and encryption)“. „Security research: EU Commission to fund technology to decrypt 5G connections“ weiterlesen
While end-to-end encryption should be generally weakened, Europol is developing new secure communication applications for the police. Some of the measures are part of the „European Police Partnership“ proclaimed by the German EU Presidency. This includes the project „WhatsApp for law enforcement officers“.
The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is leading a new Europol project on encrypted exchange between European police authorities, a EU document published by Statewatch says. Among other things, the initiative deals with lessons learned from the COVID 19 pandemic, which in many cases also means a switch from face-to-face meetings to video telephony for cross-border police cooperation. Europol has therefore set up a „Core Group for Secure Communications“, which is led by the BKA. It should examine existing methods for their effectiveness, identify possible gaps and make proposals to bridge them.
With its „Virtual Command Post“ application, Europol already provides a secure channel for immediate joint operations, through which personal data is also communicated. For emergency communication in the event of terrorist attacks or major police operations, Europol has recently launched the „Quick Response for Operational Centres“ (QROC) project. For questions related to COVID-19, Europol will initially set up an Internet forum called „Virtual Requests out of Mandate“ (vRoom), which is not intended for the exchange of operational information. „Encryption and drones: German BKA wants more special technology for EU police“ weiterlesen
Germany uses its EU Presidency to reorganise digital surveillance in Europe. A 5G working group temporarily set up by the BKA is now being consolidated at Europol. It is to coordinate the „operational capabilities“ in the Member States and facilitate interception through new legislative proposals.
The German Presidency of the EU Council wants to set up a Europe-wide working group on the interception of telecommunications by police forces and secret services. This emerges from a document put online by the British civil rights organisation Statewatch. The „Permanent Group of the Heads of Interception Units“ is to consist of the departments responsible in several Member States.
With this initiative, the German Government wants to improve the „operational capabilities“ in the Member States. However, a central office for interception of telecommunications located at the European Union is probably not adressed, as this would be contrary to the EU treaties. Europol could, however, take on an intermediary role, as it does in the cross-border tracking of GPS transmitters, and ensure that in cross-border investigations different authorities do not monitor the same telephone lines. „Lawful interception: German government sets up new surveillance unit at Europol“ weiterlesen
European police authorities have numerous applications for communication and information exchange. Member States are now developing another platform for large-scale police operations and terrorist attacks. The European domestic secret services have a similar system.
Several European police authorities are developing a new system for the exchange of information in real time. Under the name „Quick Response for Operational Centers“ (QROC), the affiliated units are to coordinate their response following a terrorist attack. The instrument could also be used to provide support in case of major events and crises. Several Member States are currently looking for appropriate solutions, and corresponding efforts are also being made in the context of the Corona crisis.
According to the project’s website, the exchange of data on events and persons possibly involved could subsequently be carried out via the so-called „Swedish Initiative“. The Council Framework Decision of 2006 sets short deadlines for the cross-border transfer of personal data. It would also be possible to use the Prüm Framework, which enables the responsible services throughout Europe to query biometric data or data on vehicle owners. „EU police forces plan new information system“ weiterlesen
The police agency of the European Union is to be given more operational powers. A proposal to this effect from the Commission is expected in December, and the German Council Presidency wants to support the initiative with a conference in Berlin.
Normally, the European Union should not create structures that compete with the member states. This also applies to Europol: the police agency in The Hague is to coordinate investigations into cross-border crime and terrorism, but it does not have police powers. Investigations are the sole responsibility of the authorities of the Member States, which are also responsible for wiretapping, house raids and arrests.
For some years now, German politicians from different parties have been pushing for Europol to be expanded into a „European FBI“. This refers to the US agency which, as the federal police force, is responsible for criminal prosecution and intelligence. The German conservative parties even have included the „European FBI“ in their European election manifesto, and the German „police union“ is also open-minded.
„Europol Regulation: Towards a „European FBI“?“ weiterlesen
Procedures according to §§ 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO) to determine the whereabouts and identification of mobile phones in Germany
In addition to telecommunications surveillance (§ 100a StPO) and online searches (§ 100b StPO), German police authorities use technical means within the framework of §§ 100 StPO to determine the location of mobile phones. These include the so-called „silent SMS“, IMSI-Catcher and cell site analysis. Customs and the secret services are also partially authorised to perform these tasks. Six-monthly parliamentary inquiries in the Bundestag document that the number of measures for federal authorities has remained at about the same level in recent years. According to the figures of individual states, the investigative methods under Sections 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are in some cases used much more frequently there than by federal authorities. Some measures for the localisation of telephone owners are in a grey area and have led to legal adjustments. A ruling by the Federal Court of Justice last year could be the reason why the figures for „silent SMS“ have suddenly fallen sharply. Some federal states are currently merging into „Joint Competence and Service Centres“ in the field of police telecommunications surveillance (GKDZ), which are being set up in Hamburg and Leipzig/Dresden. It is possible that with these centralised GKDZs, the number of measures for telecommunications surveillance within the framework of §§ 100 StPO will increase further. „The tracking bug in your pocket: Mobile phone surveillance in Germany“ weiterlesen
The EU interior ministers want to respond to the „challenges and opportunities“ of new technologies. The focus is on 5G networks, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, drones, 3D printing and improved decryption.
The Europol Police Agency will focus more on new technologies in the field of internal security. To this end, Europol will set up an „Innovation Laboratory“ to look for new ways of intercepting, decrypting and monitoring. This was decided unanimously by the European Interior Ministers at their last Council meeting at the beginning of October.
The new centre will take a „proactive approach“ and analyse new products and processes before they come onto the market. At present, however, the focus is on equipment that is already available, including 3D printers for manufacture weapons. The „Innovation Laboratory“ also deals with the „Internet of Things“. It deals with „challenges and opportunities“, i.e. the criminal use of technologies and their potential use for law enforcement. „New Technologies: Europol sets up an „Innovation Laboratory““ weiterlesen
In the fifth generation of mobile communications, encrypted and anonymous connections are technically feasible. Police and secret services, however, provide new interception possibilities
Following the auction of frequencies, mobile operators are building the new 5G network. This fifth generation of mobile phones is considered particularly secure because of its concept of „Privacy by Design“. Connections can be encrypted end-to-end, which makes interception much more difficult. The device numbers of the telephones and the unique identification of the SIM cards are also transmitted in encrypted form. Under 5G, the registered mobile phones also recognize suspicious mobile cells. This makes the IMSI catcher currently in use unusable for locating and listening to telephones in the vicinity.
The new possibilities for encryption and anonymisation are causing police forces and secret services headaches. The German Federal Ministry of the Interior complains of „additional technical hurdles in the monitoring of telecommunications and the implementation of technical investigation measures“ and announces „adjustments“ of the telecommunications legislation. „„Obstacles to surveillance“: How authorities insecure 5G telephony“ weiterlesen
5G telephony makes communication more secure. Connections, subscriber and device identifiers are partly encrypted, also conventional IMSI catchers become useless. Providers could therefore be forced to install new surveillance technology.
With Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC), the fifth mobile phone generation (5G) decomposes the transmission of telephone calls into individual stages and and encrypts them. Telecommunications providers no longer process the traffic centrally, but via various network edges. The metadata and content is only decrypted at these decentralized nodes.
That means that with 5G telephony, communication becomes much more secure. This poses a problem for police forces and secret services. „Surveillance of 5G: Governments plan to change laws“ weiterlesen