Backdoors vs. Trojans: Europol is examining „solutions“ against end-to-end encryption

The German police also uses a „decryption platform“ at Europol. The system belongs to an „innovation laboratory“ and is currently being equipped with new technology. The EU Commission will soon decide whether Europol should also handle the decryption of secure connections.

Since 2014, Europol has been offering Member States support in decrypting data carriers or mobile phones. The unit is based at the „Centre for Combating Cybercrime“ (EC3), which was set up a year earlier at the headquarters of the EU Police Agency in The Hague. What forensic tools Europol uses for this purpose is not answered by the European Commission, which is responsible for the functioning of the EU agencies.

According to Europol’s annual report for 2018, the „decryption platform“ has been requested 32 times since its creation, in 12 cases successfully. Operations are carried out in various fields, including cybercrime, drug trafficking and migrant smuggling. According to the German government, the services are also available to third states. „Backdoors vs. Trojans: Europol is examining „solutions“ against end-to-end encryption“ weiterlesen

Germany: Many „silent SMS“ at federal and state level

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

New investigative tools: German police receives 78 million euros for Schengen Information System

Three new EU regulations significantly expand the possibilities of the largest European police database. Four different biometric data can now be entered in SIS II. The number of storages and searches is once again increasing significantly. German authorities are among the power users.

The storage of data in the Schengen Information System (SIS II) continues to increase. This was written by Hans-Georg Engelke, State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, in response to a parliamentary question. According to the report almost 90 million people and objects were listed in Europe’s largest police database as of 1st January. In 2018 there were 82 million, in 2017 about 76 million. The current number of wanted persons, at around 983,000, is the smaller part of all alerts. One tenth of these entries come from Germany, and this number has also risen significantly. „New investigative tools: German police receives 78 million euros for Schengen Information System“ weiterlesen

German authorities improve face recognition

The Federal Criminal Police Office can search a database with almost 6 million facial images, the system is now being equipped with artificial intelligence

Last week, the German Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer surprisingly moved away from plans to expand facial recognition in public spaces. He had demanded that the use of so-called intelligent video surveillance be anchored in the Federal Police Law. In the current draft of the new law, the topic is now excluded. However, it is questionable whether this really means a renunciation of the technology. The Ministry is of the opinion that § 27 of the Federal Police Act allows the automatic evaluation of camera images anyway. It states that the Federal Police may „use automatic image recording and image capturing devices“. Actually, this meant automatic continuous operation and remote control of video cameras. In the legal literature, it is therefore disputed whether the analysis of images using algorithms or artificial intelligence is covered by this. „German authorities improve face recognition“ weiterlesen

The tracking bug in your pocket: Mobile phone surveillance in Germany

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

NATO establishes biometric database, US military has it already

The U.S. Department of Defense stores biometric data on more than seven million people, mostly from war zones. Refugee organizations also collect millions of facial images, irises and fingerprints of people seeking protection. They may also find their way to law enforcement agencies.

The United States military has a database of millions of facial images, iris photos, fingerprints, and DNA data. This „Automated Biometric Information System“ (ABIS) currently stores 7.4 million identities, reports the news magazine OneZero. The information is the result of a request under the Freedom of Information Act and is based on a presentation by an employee in the Ministry of Defense.

The database is maintained by the military biometrics agency and data is collected in countries where the US military is active. The system is intended to identify and track down terror suspects and their contact persons, biometric traces are taken from captured or killed opponents, among others. According to OneZero, data also originates from voter registrations, employment relationships or other information that the military obtains. Allied soldiers are also recorded. „NATO establishes biometric database, US military has it already“ weiterlesen

Interpol requests from Turkey: Sloppiness of German police puts own citizens into prison

Two Germans are in extradition custody in Slovenia and Italy at the request of Turkish authorities. Both come from Turkey and were granted asylum in Germany for political persecution and later citizenship. Interpol should have withdrawn the request. The BKA, however, concealed the asylum status of the two.

Two months ago, the Slovenian police arrested Ismet Kilic, who lives in the German city Duisburg, on his return from holiday and imprisoned him for extradition. This was based on a request to arrest and extradite Ismet Kilic from Turkey, which was distributed as a so-called Red Notice via the police organisation Interpol.

Kilic had applied in Germany for asylum in 1997. The subsequent recognition as a politically persecuted person was based on Turkish accusations that he had founded a trade union for civil servants and was a member of a left-wing extremist organisation. His conviction before the State Security Court in Ankara was in absentia, and Interpol’s request, which now led to his arrest, relates to the prison sentence imposed at the time. „Interpol requests from Turkey: Sloppiness of German police puts own citizens into prison“ weiterlesen

Face recognition after G20: Police in Hamburg laughs at Data Protection Commissioner

Despite an instruction by the Data Protection Commissioner, the police of the Hanseatic city does not want to do without its new face recognition system. In four weeks, the Administrative Court will rule about the dissolution of a specially created database. Without waiting for the verdict, the state government withdraws the sharpest sword from the top data protector.

Even after the deletion order by Johannes Caspar, the Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, the police in Hamburg continue to use a face recognition system. This was written by the red-green senate in response to an inquiry by the left-wing faction in the Hamburg parliament. Since 18 December 2018, a further 92 searches have been carried out in image and video files. This brings the total number of searches for suspects to 782. „Face recognition after G20: Police in Hamburg laughs at Data Protection Commissioner“ weiterlesen

German federal states test police software with Palantir function

For police investigations, publicly available data on the Internet plays an important role. The information is also used more intensively in everyday police work and combined with information from several police databases.

Under the name SENTINEL, German police authorities from three federal states have tested new software for „mission management“. During an investigation, the application searches in social media for the location and current photos of the target person. Prior to police access, information on access to buildings or construction measures can also be queried. The software should also show possible escape routes of the wanted persons via an Internet search.

The research project lasted 18 months and was led by the German Police University in Münster. The police headquarters in Osnabrück and the police headquarters in Dortmund and Munich were involved. The costs of 84,600 euros were borne by the private Stüllenberg Foundation in Hamburg. Last week, the participants presented their results at a final conference. „German federal states test police software with Palantir function“ weiterlesen

EU facial recognition

Police and secret services can currently search facial images only in individual EU Member States. The EU wants to change that

The European Union wants to make it much easier for police to cross-check facial images. In the future, it will be possible to compare search photos with corresponding databases in all member states. Such a search could be carried out with still images from surveillance cameras in order to identify an unknown person. At present, each country in the EU must be contacted individually for this purpose.

The relevant facial image databases are usually held by police authorities. In Germany, this is the police information system INPOL, which is maintained at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) for all German police departments. More than four million searchable photographs are currently stored there, many of them from police measures after an arrest. „EU facial recognition“ weiterlesen