More face recognition at the German Federal Criminal Police

The German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is expanding its capabilities for biometric face recognition. For this purpose, the performance of the central face recognition system (GES), with which the BKA has been able to search its databases since 2008, is to be reviewed. The Office will then decide whether a new facial recognition system should be procured or whether the existing 2D system should be „upgraded“. The GES searches the electronic police information system at the BKA (known as INPOL), which currently contains over 4 million searchable photographs. The Federal Ministry of the Interior reported 26,879 searches for 2017 (2016: 23,064, 2015: 16,773). Until 2015, the BKA had participated in the „GES-3D“ project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. For the identification of people from photo and video data, ear recognition is also integrated. The aim of this study should be to switch to such a 3D system. More face recognition at the German Federal Criminal Police weiterlesen

Military intelligence for Europol

The EU plans to strengthen the linkages between its internal and external security structures. In future, military information will increasingly be used in combating terrorism and organised crime. Cooperation is being tested first in the field of migration.

The European Union is planning the establishment of „Crime Information Cells“ (CIC) for the exchange of data between the police, military and secret services. The intention of the players involved is to reinforce the „external dimension of internal security“. The “Crime Information Cells” would strengthen linkages between civil and military EU missions. This would apply to Common Security and Defence Policy missions (CSDP) and the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), which fall within the remit of the European External Action Service or European Commission. Military intelligence for Europol weiterlesen

EU language biometrics projects: research for police and intelligence services

Voice samples can be analysed in order to identify unknown persons in tapped telephone conversations, audio chats and video files. If the technology were applied to internet nodes, then it would be of particular interest to intelligence services.

The Speaker Identification Integrated Project (SIIP) on the use of speech biometrics by the police, co-financed by the European Union (EU), has successfully passed its final test. This was announced by the international police organisation Interpol in a press release. SIIP’s objective is to identify and locate “criminals and terrorists” through the analysis of their voices.

A total of 19 authorities, companies and institutes are involved in SIIP, including the Italian Ministry of Defence, the University of Groningen and the companies Nuance and Airbus. The police organisation Interpol, of which 190 states are members, is the intended end-user of the project. Other interested parties include the Italian Carabinieri, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the Portuguese Criminal Police and the British Metropolitan Police. The project is scheduled to be terminated until April 2018. Following tests in the field, the participants are now in the process of drafting their final report. EU language biometrics projects: research for police and intelligence services weiterlesen

How Europol is coordinating cross-border undercover investigations and surveillance

While the European Union has agencies for police and border police cooperation, it does not have own police powers of attorney. The same also applies to undercover observation and surveillance measures. The police agency Europol has played a most active role in this area nevertheless and has worked for years to interconnect relevant units and working groups from the member states.

Europol first organised an experts’ conference on undercover surveillance in 2008, holding a second conference in 2011. Prominent attendees included the European Cross-Border Surveillance Working Group (CSW), an alliance of a number of mobile task forces and comparable units from the member states, which was formed in 2005. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the CSW is investigating “the scope for deploying technical equipment in efforts to combat crime”. It is also addressing the question as to how “criminal activities and technical means to identify police measures” can be prevented. How Europol is coordinating cross-border undercover investigations and surveillance weiterlesen

Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases

Heiner Busch and Matthias Monroy. Translation by Viktoria Langer

The topic of counter-terrorism in Europe remains closely linked to the development and expansion of police (and secret service) databases. This was the case in the 1970s, after 11 September 2001 and has also been the case since 2014, when the EU Member States started working on their action plans against ‚foreign terrorist fighters‘.

The first effect of this debate has been a quantitative one: the amount of data in the relevant databases has increased explosively since 2015. This can be seen by looking in particular at available data on the Europol databases, like ‚Focal Points‘ (formerly: Analytical Work Files) of the Europol analysis system. Since 2015 they have become one of the central instruments of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) which was established in January 2016. Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases weiterlesen

Pretty complicated: The European data landscape

The Council of the European Union has published a diagram of all of information systems in the realm of justice and home affairs. This overview includes databases operated by the police, customs and agencies, as well as by Interpol. It also features the agreement between the EU and the USA on exchanging data regarding financial transactions.

A new diagram is intended to make it easier for delegations from European Union member states to get to grips with the data landscape in the area of justice and home affairs. This was against the backdrop of the High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability launched in the summer of last year, which is tasked with the development of proposals to improve file-sharing. The group is made up of members of the Commission and the member states, as well as external “experts”.

All existing information systems are to be assessed and tested for their usefulness. Uniform formats that are developed by the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police Office) and the police agency Europol are envisaged. A further aim is to improve the quality of the data supplied. A problem that the authorities run up against when dealing with decentralised systems is the fact that the member states often use different software programmes. The Expert Group is working to assess the feasibility of centralising systems in such cases. Pretty complicated: The European data landscape weiterlesen