Encrypted communication: UK remains member of EU interception group

Despite Brexit, British police can influence surveillance laws in the EU. The country is also represented in European secret service circles.

Notwithstanding its exit from the European Union, the British police will remain a member of a Standing Heads of Lawful Interception Units based at Europol. The UK is represented there by the National Crime Agency. This was confirmed by the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, in her answer to a parlamentary question by the pirate Patrick Breyer. The UK is thus the only third country in the group, which otherwise consists exclusively of EU members and the Schengen states Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

The working group of the departments on telecommunications surveillance had once been founded as a strategic „5G Expert Group“ on the initiative of the German Federal Criminal Police Office. It was supposed to give the authorities access to the new telephone standard, which was actually tap-proof. After this was successfully pushed through in the European and international standardisation bodies ETSI and 3GPP, the group was given a new name and new tasks in October 2021. It is now to ensure that the needs of law enforcement agencies are taken into account when amending surveillance laws at EU level and in the member states. „Encrypted communication: UK remains member of EU interception group“ weiterlesen

Ukraine war: New Eurojust regulation in fast-track procedure

Eurojust is to be allowed to store and process personal and biometric data for the first time.The EU Justice Agency will also be authorised to analyse digital evidence, but it does not actually have a mandate to do so.

The Permanent Representatives of the EU Member States today agreed on a position on the new Eurojust Regulation. The agency is responsible for judicial cooperation in criminal matters and coordinates cross-border investigations. Among the new proposals, Eurojust will be allowed to secure and process evidence on war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The three criminal offences enshrined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are part of Eurojust’s mandate, but the establishment of a biometric database is not yet part of it.

The background to this is the war in Ukraine, on which the agency is to take action following a request from the EU Council of Ministers for „Justice and Home Affairs“. Eurojust is supposed to support European and international courts and the in securing evidence. Because the measures required for this are urgent, the Eurojust Regulation will also be adopted in a two-month urgent procedure. The Commission had presented a corresponding legislative proposal only last week. Four days later, the Member States in the Council dealt with it for the first time. „Ukraine war: New Eurojust regulation in fast-track procedure“ weiterlesen

EU Parliament approves: New Europol Regulation on the home straight

The EU police agency gets a new legal basis after six years. The expansion of its powers is hardly matched by new possibilities for supervision. A parliamentary control group even proves to be a driver for the expansion of an already powerful agency.

The EU Parliament has voted by a large majority to extend Europol’s powers. The negotiators of the Home Affairs Committee and the Council had agreed on the new regulation in February. With 480 votes in favour, 143 against and 20 abstentions, it was now approved in plenary.

The new text considerably expands the powers of the police agency based in The Hague. As in the investigations into the encrypted messenger services Encrochat and SkyECC, Europol will in future be allowed to receive millions of pieces of data from private companies in order to analyse them. Also in the area of crimes against the sexual self-determination of children, Europol will in future receive large data sets from companies and process them forensically. „EU Parliament approves: New Europol Regulation on the home straight“ weiterlesen

European Court of Justice: Controls at the Schengen borders may not be extended arbitrarily

Some EU members still control their internal borders excessively. However, exceeding the time limit of six months is incompatible with the Schengen Borders Code. Governments and the EU Commission must now react.

The lifting of internal border controls is often praised as the greatest achievement of the European Union. However, especially for migration control, many countries have made use of the possibility of temporary reintroduction and have extended this regulation, sometimes dozens of times. This is contrary to EU law, ruled the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) in Luxembourg last week.

The case was brought by the Austrian citizen N.W., who refused to show his passport at a checkpoint at the Slovenian border in Austria and was ordered to pay a €36 fine for this according to a court ruling. In a second case, W. challenged the judgement. The Regional Administrative Court of Styria therefore referred the matter to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling. Now the courts in Austria have to deal with it again. „European Court of Justice: Controls at the Schengen borders may not be extended arbitrarily“ weiterlesen

Predator by Cytrox: Spyware discovered on phone of Greek journalist

A committee of enquiry in the EU Parliament is to look into the use of mercenary spyware against opposition members and media workers in Europe. German clients could also be in the spotlight, according to an analysis by the Meta Group.

On 10 March, the European Parliament decided to set up a committee of enquiry into the Pegasus trojan programme, which met for its constituent session yesterday. Background to the case are the known operations of the spying software produced by the Israeli NSO Group against opposition members and journalists in Hungary and Poland. The company claims to have sold its tools to almost all European countries, reports the New Yorker magazine.

The investigation, which goes by the acronym „PEGA“, involves members of parliament who were themselves intercepted by the NSO spying software, including Catalan politician Carles Puigdemont. This „CatalanGate“ was made public by the Canadian research group Citizen Lab at the start of „PEGA“. The EU Commission was also investigated with the trojan. „Predator by Cytrox: Spyware discovered on phone of Greek journalist“ weiterlesen

Screening of travellers: U.S. wants to query fingerprint databases in Europe

To participate in the Visa Waiver Programme, Israel allows U.S. authorities access to its biometric data. The government in Washington wants to make this mandatory for another 40 countries.

The US government has sent a letter to EU member states announcing an Enhanced Border Security Partnership (EBSP). This would regulate access to fingerprint databases by US border authorities. It would be a condition for countries whose nationals can enter the United visa-free.

The German government also received such a notification via the U.S. Embassy in Berlin on 9 February, the Social Democratic Party-led Ministry of the Interior confirmed in its answer to a parliamentary question. „Essentially, among other things, this is probably intended to enable the exchange of biometric data, among other things of travellers,“ the ministry writes somewhat nebulously, adding that further details are currently being clarified. The regulation is to apply from 2027, it says. „Screening of travellers: U.S. wants to query fingerprint databases in Europe“ weiterlesen

First deployment on the edge of a war zone: EU sends Frontex to Moldova

In just a few days, the Republic of Moldova could command units of the EU border force, the deployment is already being prepared. However, a status agreement currently being negotiated with the government in Chisinau would have to exclude operations in Transnistria, where Russia has stationed military forces.

The EU Commission and the member states in the Council want to conclude a so-called status agreement with the government of the Republic of Moldova in an urgent procedure. Subsequently, the EU border agency Frontex is to send units for „migration management“ to the border with Ukraine there. This is according to the Commission’s press release of yesterday, Thursday.

Both the Commission and the Council are working at full speed on the planned deployment, and only yesterday the ambassadors of all EU member states were informed about it in a special meeting. Before negotiations for a status agreement with Moldova can begin, the Council must give the Commission a mandate to that effect. The Commission has submitted a proposal for this in an urgent procedure. „First deployment on the edge of a war zone: EU sends Frontex to Moldova“ weiterlesen

What’s the problem with the EU regulation on the release of electronic evidence?

The EU Parliament has accommodated the member states on crucial points, but now demands special attention to fundamental rights. The controversial question is how a state in which a company is based can object to an order.

The French EU Presidency wants to get things moving on the so-called E-Evidence dossier and has scheduled several meetings of the relevant Council working groups since January. However, the Member States and the Parliament have not yet been able to agree on essential points. Today, the issue is once again on the agenda of the meeting of Justice Ministers in Brussels.

Four years ago, the European Commission proposed a Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters. The law enforcement authorities of the member states want to oblige internet service providers that are not located in their own country to directly transmit data of their users. These direct contacts between states and companies would bypass the usual legal process. The regulation concerns inventory, traffic and content data. It also covers companies that are based in third countries but offer their services in the EU. For this purpose, they are to designate a „point of contact“ in an EU member state. „What’s the problem with the EU regulation on the release of electronic evidence?“ weiterlesen

Demands from EU member states: Greece to upgrade borders with helicopters, drones, police dogs

Following a review by other Schengen states, the Greek government is improving surveillance and control of its external borders, funded by EU funds. This could encourage pushbacks in violation of international law.

European Union member states are likely to oblige Greece to further upgrade its external borders. A draft decision by the EU Commission, published by the civil rights organisation Statewatch, states that surveillance at land and sea borders will be stepped up. Greek authorities would also have to improve controls at border crossings.

The demands are based on an evaluation of the application of the so-called Schengen acquis in Greece from the summer of 2021. Such reviews take place regularly in each member state and are intended to determine whether a government is complying with Schengen rules. The evaluation teams consist of volunteers from other EU countries. The „deficiencies“ found are documented in a report. „Demands from EU member states: Greece to upgrade borders with helicopters, drones, police dogs“ weiterlesen

New authority against money laundering: EU Commission and Europol want to expand financial investigations

In the summer, the Commission presented a four-step legislative package against money laundering and terrorist financing. This includes the establishment of a new authority and the introduction of a bank account register. The proposals are currently being discussed by the Council, slowly now the consultation of the Parliament is starting.

At the beginning of next year, the European Union wants to establish a new Authority for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLA). It is expected to become operational in 2024 and fully operational two years later, supervising financial transactions of so-called „high-risk institutions“. A „harmonised risk assessment methodology“ will be used to determine which firms fall into this category. For this purpose, the authority also wants to evaluate reports from the member states. „New authority against money laundering: EU Commission and Europol want to expand financial investigations“ weiterlesen