Germany and Great Britain: Confiscation of asylum seekers‘ mobile phones can be illegal

In many cases, European authorities confiscate the phones of refugees after they have crossed the border in order to check their identity or to identify those helping them to flee. The people concerned do not always get their devices back. This means additional stress in the asylum procedure.

The Home Office in London admitted on Thursday that the blanket confiscation of migrants‘ mobile phones is illegal. According to the British daily Independent, Home Secretary Priti Patel’s lawyer told this to the High Court. The judges are hearing a case brought by three asylum seekers from Iraq and Iran. They were arrested in 2020 after entering the country in small boats across the English Channel. In December, an appeals court ruled that this did not constitute illegal entry.

The authorities detained the devices for at least three months following an order and examined them forensically. According to the newspaper, in search of phone numbers, messages, pictures, videos, traffic data and GPS coordinates the entire memory of the devices was read out. The plaintiffs‘ lawyers believe that the practice could affect hundreds or thousands of mobile phones a year. This is contrary to data protection and the European Convention on Human Rights, the British Home Office has now confirmed. The practice of pressuring asylum seekers to hand over their PIN numbers was also unlawful, it said. „Germany and Great Britain: Confiscation of asylum seekers‘ mobile phones can be illegal“ weiterlesen

Germany: The state hacks along

With the temporary exception of the Federal Police, all German police agencies and secret services are now allowed to hack into computers and telephones. This is an extremely deep invasion of privacy

On 10 June, the Bundestag massively expanded the use of state trojan horse programmes. A bill on the „adaptation of the law on the protection of the constitution“ was put to the vote, which the MPs adopted with 355 votes of the ruling coalition factions CDU/CSU and SPD. According to the bill, the domestic intelligence service will now also be allowed to penetrate foreign computer systems with the help of spy software. The parliamentary groups DIE LINKE, FDP, Bündnis90/Die Grünen and AfD voted against; the SPD voted five against and three abstained.

The bill „to modernise the legal basis of the Federal Police“ was also passed by the CDU/CSU and SPD against the votes of the opposition. This would have allowed the Federal Police to infiltrate computers and mobile phones, just like the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, without the persons concerned having to have committed a crime. A week ago, the upper house (Bundesrat) overturned this new law for various reasons, so the next federal government will have to deal with it again. The renewed Constitutional Protection Act, on the other hand, remains valid. „Germany: The state hacks along“ weiterlesen

Germany: Trojans for all

The German Bundestag passed new wiretapping laws for secret services and the Federal Police

In future, German secret services will be able to remotely access private computers or telephones with spy software. They will be allowed to intercept not only ongoing but also „inactive“ communications, i.e. to read out data stored on the devices. This was decided in the Bundestag today with the votes of the ruling coalition of Conservatives (CDU/ CSU) and Socialdemocrats (SPD). The vote was on a „Law on the Adaptation of Legislation on the Protection of the Constitution“, which is intended to facilitate the „reconnaissance of serious threats to our democratic constitutional state“. „Germany: Trojans for all“ 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