EU database: European domestic secret services increasingly hunt abroad

50,000 people are under secret surveillance throughout Europe by the French police, another 50,000 are to be checked during routine police operations or when crossing the EU border. In the field of secret services, this wanted list is headed by Germany. Requests for such clandestine observation can also come from third countries.

More than 1,500 persons are being observed by the German secret service with the help of the Schengen Information System (SIS II) throughout Europe, the Federal Ministry of the Interior writes in an overview. Entries are made by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), which is the leading office in the field of clandestine observations in Europe. Secret services in France and Great Britain have each posted slightly less than 1,500 persons, Sweden 625, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic around 500.

The SIS II has been used for 25 years by border, police, customs and immigration authorities as well as secret services from 26 EU Member States including Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Last year, almost one million people were wanted from these countries in the SIS II, for example, with a European arrest warrant or for missing persons. However, most entries concern persons who are subject to an entry ban after their deportation. Article 36 of the SIS II Council Decision covers with 168,000 in total a relatively large proportion of these one million, and the number is increasing significantly every year. „EU database: European domestic secret services increasingly hunt abroad“ weiterlesen

Ten-year project: Interpol renews its information systems

The international police organisation wants to turn a „data tsunami“ into „actionable intelligence“. The 12-year-old wording shows how outdated Interpol’s databases are. The modernization is led by the former German BKA vice-president. The German Ministry of the Interior is financing a considerable part of the new IT architecture.

In a „Policing Capability Enhancement Programme“ (I-CORE), Interpol intends to completely renew its information technology and improve the networking of existing data. The programme was unanimously approved by the 194 member states at the Interpol General Assembly in October 2019 in Santiago de Chile.

„I-CORE“ is to be implemented in several stages by 2030 and will cost the equivalent of around 80 million euros. Now the international police organisation based in Lyon is looking for sponsors for individual projects. Interpol has a very tight budget, which is financed by its members and has no room for modernizations like „I-CORE“. „Ten-year project: Interpol renews its information systems“ weiterlesen

SPECTRE Project: EU finances technology for undercover investigations

Police forces from 34 countries have been investigating criminal networks in South Eastern Europe since 2017, money comes from the Internal Security Fund of the European Union. In addition to all kinds of espionage and wiretapping technology, they also pay informers.

For undercover investigations, European police forces use miniaturized surveillance technology, but usually remain extremely secretive about how it works. Since 2017, spy cameras, pocket microphones, mini drones and other equipment have also been procured through an EU project. This is why the European Commission had to provide details of the small devices in response to a parliamentary question. „SPECTRE Project: EU finances technology for undercover investigations“ weiterlesen

Chile: Spy like in Germany

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

Venezuela: Peter Krauth is released, now questions about Interpol warrants

Via Interpol, the German police are searching for Peter Krauth, Bernhard Heidbreder and Thomas Walter as members of a „terrorist group“. But all accusations are time-barred in Venezuela and partly also in Germany. The arrest warrants could therefore violate the Interpol statutes.

The German citizen Peter Krauth, who has been imprisoned in Venezuela since November, is free again. His release on Friday followed a ruling by the Supreme Court in Caracas, the website „Ende Aus“ reports. His extradition demanded by authorities in Germany is not possible because the accused offences are time-barred under Venezuelan law. Krauth was arrested at 16 November 2020 on an Interpol arrest warrant in Caracas.

The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is searching for Peter Krauth, Bernhard Heidbreder and Thomas Walter as members of the K.O.M.I.T.E.E.. As a „terrorist organization“ they are suspected of having carried out an arson attack on a Bundeswehr building in Bad Freienwalde in 1994 which left nobody hurt. One year later, the three allegedly tried to blow up a deportation prison under construction in Berlin-Grünau. A police patrol had become aware of preparations, and the building was eventually left unscathed. According to the BKA, „various pieces of evidence“ had been found in a vehicle left behind at the scene of the crime, which the police had assigned to the three. German authorities then published a manhunt. „Venezuela: Peter Krauth is released, now questions about Interpol warrants“ weiterlesen

Prüm Decision: European criminal police offices agree on face recognition system

The European Union is extending the cross-border query of biometric data to faces. Searches should also be possible with still images from surveillance cameras. Up to now, only individuals may be processed in the Prüm framework, but soon bulk searches could be permitted.

In 2008, the Member States of the European Union signed the EU Prüm Decision. The treaty allows law enforcement authorities to conduct cross-border searches of DNA, fingerprints and data containing vehicles and their owners. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Prüm Decision, the Council had proposed Conclusions to extend this cooperation to facial images.

For the envisaged „Next generation Prüm“ (Prüm.ng), the Commission first ordered a feasibility study from the consulting firm Deloitte. It was submitted last autumn and is being discussed in the relevant Council working groups, but remains secret. The British civil rights organisation Statewatch has published a report by a „focus group on face recognition“ in which ten criminal police offices define, on the basis of the Deloitte study, a technical framework for the comparison of faces. „Prüm Decision: European criminal police offices agree on face recognition system“ weiterlesen

Clearview AI: What does Interpol use face recognition for?

The International Police Organisation is developing a system to identify unknown persons by facial images. Interpol stores photos and videos from Internet service providers and other companies in a separate database. Interpol has also been using Clearview services for face recognition.

The US company Clearview AI has collected around three billion personal images from the Internet and used them to create a facial recognition database. This was reported in the New York Times six weeks ago. Most of the pictures were taken from social media profile photos, and it is likely that Clearview will also store the corresponding user data. Clearview offers companies and government agencies the option of identifying individuals by querying the database. According to reports, the facial images can also be searched with a photo app, which according to the New York Times is distributed among „rich people“.

The U.S. magazine Buzzfeed has obtained a client list from Clearview. It contains over 2,200 companies, governments and police authorities, including Interpol. The worldwide police organization has conducted more than 320 searches. „Clearview AI: What does Interpol use face recognition for?“ weiterlesen

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