European police forces are organised in three informal networks for the exchange of information on techniques and methods of clandestine surveillance. The German Presidency wants to merge the structures and establish them with the EU. Europol could be responsible for coordination.
Police tasks include clandestine surveillance, for example to convict suspects of a crime or to prevent the commission of further offences. To this end, the authorities use technical means to listen to the spoken word, to observe with miniaturised cameras or to trace with tracking devices.
To improve covert observation and surveillance, European authorities are joining forces in three networks. Police authorities from Eastern Europe, Finland and Malta are members of the „Surveillance Cooperation Group“ (SCG) founded in Prague in 2017. The countries of the Western Balkans as well as Austria join forces in the „Surveillance Expert Network for Southeast Europe“ (SENSEE). All other EU Member States, the associated Schengen members Norway and Switzerland as well as Europol are organised in the „European Surveillance Group“ (ESG). Great Britain is also still participating in this group. „German proposal: EU to take over working group on covert observation and surveillance“ weiterlesen
In a year’s time, the German Ministry of the Interior could decide on the nationwide equipment of the Federal Police with electroshock weapons. Until then, the officers may in a pilot project shoot at children as well.
At the beginning of September, the Federal Police Inspectorates Berlin-Ostbahnhof, Kaiserslautern and Frankfurt/Main-Hauptbahnhof started a pilot project on the use of tasers. But the officers are to avoid shots at heart patients. This is stated in an administrative regulation of 7 August, which the Federal Ministry of the Interior has only just published in the governmental „Ministerialblatt“ for the „Taser X2“ model of the US manufacturer Axon. The document can only be obtained for a fee; the FOIA platform „Frag den Staat“ has put it online.
With tasers, the officers shoot tiny arrows connected to a wire, which penetrate the skin by about one centimetre and emit a current pulse of 50,000 volts for several seconds. Those affected feel a very strong pain and are initially completely paralysed. „Taser at the German Federal Police: Shooting from the back“ weiterlesen
The Berlin police fail to crack the mobile phone and laptop of a neo-Nazi. This is stated in the final report of the investigation team on arson and spraying in the Neukölln district. Federal authorities and companies have also chipped their teeth at the devices.
The investigation of a right-wing series of attacks in Berlin is made considerably more difficult by the encryption of devices that the police confiscated from suspects. This is stated in the final report of the „Fokus“ investigation team. Accordingly, the police have asked several official and private agencies for help with decryption, each time unsuccessfully. The classified report has 72 pages, in a much shorter open version the explanations on digital forensics are missing. There is only a footnote stating that „work continues on the decryption of two encrypted devices of a suspect“.
For several years left-wing activists and projects in the Berlin district of Neukölln have been plagued by arson and spraying, while three members of the right-wing scene known to the police are suspected. Because the police were slow in investigating, Senator of the Interior Andreas Geisel (SPD) set up the „Fokus“ investigation team over a year ago. „Independent“ police officers were supposed to check the work of their colleagues. However, there is still no new evidence against the three main suspects Sebastian T., Tilo P. and Julian B. after the end of the new investigation. „Right-wing attacks: German Police and Europol cannot decrypt suspects‘ devices“ weiterlesen
German police officers are advising the police in Santiago on setting up a department for undercover investigations. Further support is provided to improve the public presentation of police measures
German criminal investigation offices are helping the police in Chile to set up a unit for undercover investigations. One of the partners providing expertise was the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) of Baden-Württemberg, which visited the Chilean authorities on site. This was confirmed by the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Stephan Mayer, in response to an inquiry by left-wing MP Ulla Jelpke. Security authorities had been „advised“ during the visit.
The LKA in Baden-Württemberg is one of those German authorities whose spies against left movements have been exposed in recent years. At the end of 2010, the undercover police officer Simon Bromma was discovered in Heidelberg, who was set upon anti-fascist groups under the alias „Simon Brenner“. The officer was also active in neighboring countries, the state government justified a trip to a No Border Camp in Brussels with „legend building“. Five years later, the Administrative Court in Karlsruhe declared the operation in Heidelberg illegal. „Chile: Spy like in Germany“ weiterlesen
Inquiries in parliaments and under the Freedom of Information Act show the amount of secret text messages to find out the whereabouts of telephones and their owners. Police use the method in real time for arrests, while secret services create longer-term movement profiles with it.
„Silent SMS“ are text messages whose reception is not indicated by the mobile phone. However, they generate a communication process that is logged by the telephone providers. With a court order, security authorities query this data record. Police and secret services are interested in the radio cells in which the phones are located. In this way, they obtain the location and a movement profile of the persons concerned.
For some years now, biannual inquiries to the German government have documented that the figures for „silent SMS“ at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Federal Police are at a similar level. The highest value for both authorities together was in the first half of 2016 at around 138,000, the lowest in the first half of 2019 at around 26,000. Subsequently, the figures have more than doubled again, the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced last week. „Germany: Many „silent SMS“ at federal and state level“ 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
Police in Germany are a matter for the federal states, this also applies to the surveillance of telecommunications. In Schleswig-Holstein alone, local police departments send as many „Silent SMS“ as the Federal Police. A decision of the Federal Court of Justice should contain this practice, but a change is hardly recognizable.
German authorities are increasingly using mobile phones as a tracking device. This results from the semi-annual overview recently published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in response to a parliamentary question. According to the report, the Federal Police sent 50,654 „Silent SMS“ in the second half of the year, compared with 38,990 in the previous half-year. Only the figures for the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) show a decrease. In the second half of the year, the authority sent 21,337 „Silent SMS“, about 10,000 fewer than previous. „Significantly more „Silent SMS“ with German police authorities“ weiterlesen
Three years ago, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior was already arming itself against attacks by small drones. These could endanger critical infrastructures or industrial facilities equipped with firearms or explosives. With the USA, Germany is now leading a working group of a worldwide alliance of states. It is also about defending against „violent extremism“.
Together with the US government, Germany has launched an „initiative to defend against unmanned aerial vehicles“. This was reported by the US State Department in a press release. The founding meeting of an appropriate working group was held within the framework of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) in Berlin on 13 December. The group operates under the abbreviation „GCTF C-UAS“. „German authorities lead international working group on defence against small drones“ weiterlesen
In the future, Berlin police officers will carry taser guns when patrolling the districts of Mitte and Kreuzberg. After a test phase of three years, these weapons could be introduced across the board.
The Berlin police departments of police stations 32 (Mitte) and 53 (Kreuzberg) are being armed with electroshock weapons. This is part of a test phase that is scheduled to last for three years. Ten police officers at each of the departments received training on the use of taser guns. Costs are said to be in the region of 55,000 euros.
Actually known as electroshock guns, tasers fire projectiles fitted with barbed hooks. Wires connected to these conduct shocks of 50,000 volts, thereby inducing a state of temporary paralysis. While their manufacturers claim that taser guns are a “non-lethal weapon”, critics prefer to use the term “less-lethal weapon”. According to reporting by the Guardian daily newspaper, at least 47 people died in the USA following the use of taser guns as of November 2015. „Berlin police introduces electroshock weapons for patrolling officers“ weiterlesen
Examination of several recently exposed cases suggests that the main targets of police public order operations are anti‐globalisation networks, the climate change movement and animal rights activists.
The internationalisation of protest has brought with it an increasing number of controversial undercover cross‐border police operations. In spite of questions about the legality of the methods used in these operations, the EU is working towards simplifying the cross‐border exchange of undercover officers, with the relevant steps initiated under the German EU presidency in 2007.
In October 2010 , “Mark Stone,” a political activist with far‐reaching international contacts, was revealed to be British police officer Mark Kennedy  prompting widespread debate on the cross‐border exchange of undercover police officers. Activists had noted Kennedy’s suspicious behaviour during a court case and then came across his real passport at his home. „Using false documents against “Euro-anarchists”: the exchange of Anglo-German undercover police highlights controversial police operations“ weiterlesen