Resignations over „Predator“ spyware scandal in Greece

The Greek secret service spied on at least one journalist, today its head resigned. In addition, the prime minister’s secretary-general quit his post. The affair reaches the EU level after a current MEP was also spied on.

The Greek wiretapping affair involving the „Predator“ spy programme is widening. According to media reports, Grigoris Dimitriadis, the Secretary General of the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, resigned today. Today, his office writes that the head of the secret service, Panagiotis Kontoleon, has also submitted his resignation.

The association „Reporters United“ had previously reported how a network of companies with the participation of Dimitriadis was making money from state operations of the spyware. Intellexa, the company that distributes „Predator“ in Greece, is part of this. The revelation is also explosive because the two are relatives: The Secretary General is the nephew of the Prime Minister, who in turn is directly responsible for the secret service as a user of „Predator“. „Resignations over „Predator“ spyware scandal in Greece“ weiterlesen

Access to biometric data: Five states concede to U.S. government demand, MEPs speak of ‚blackmail‘

Visa-free entry to the United States will be tied to a new requirement. Officials there want to be allowed to conduct automated searches for fingerprints and facial images in national databases of EU states. In Brussels, questions now abound about the EU’s jurisdiction.

At least five governments worldwide have agreed to give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security access to their national biometric police databases. This is to become a new provision so that citizens of the countries concerned can continue to enter the USA without a visa. Most recently, Great Britain has agreed to such an Enhanced Border Security Partnership (EBSP); this was already known about Israel.

In addition, three EU countries are said to have already concluded a bilateral agreement with the government in Washington, MEPs in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) learned last Wednesday in a meeting with the U.S. ambassador to the EU. However, they remained unnamed. „Access to biometric data: Five states concede to U.S. government demand, MEPs speak of ‚blackmail‘“ weiterlesen

German Presidency: G7 countries support EU policy on chat control

In Eltville in November, the G7 interior ministers want to put pressure on internet companies to use filter technologies to detect sexual abuse and grooming of children. The driver is Great Britain, which is leading the way with a new law. Encryption is also affected.

On May 11, 2022, the EU Commission presented its proposal for a regulation to combat child abuse. This contains numerous obligations for Internet service providers, including measures to assess and minimize the risk of the spread of sexual abuse and grooming. If this risk is assessed as „high,“ authorities can issue so-called detection orders. Companies must then deploy filtering technologies that, as it stands now, will also block out encrypted communications.

The proposal, which the Commission drafted after repeated requests from the Council of 27 EU member states, will be discussed for the first time at the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council in Prague on Monday. In the Internet civil society, the plan, dubbed „chat control,“ is facing widespread opposition. The EU governments are now getting support from the G7 countries, whose heads of government addressed the issue at their summit in Elmau a week ago. Under the German G7 presidency, the interior ministers were subsequently tasked with taking measures. „German Presidency: G7 countries support EU policy on chat control“ weiterlesen

Border Security Partnership: EU states consider unprecedented biometrics agreement with U.S.

In a letter to several EU member states and the Commission, the U.S. government threatens a new condition for visa-free entry. There is confusion in Brussels over a response. Parliament was the last to be informed about the initiative, although it concerns fingerprints and facial images.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government and the European Union have entered into several data-sharing agreements. The TFTP treaty, for example, gives U.S. authorities details of global financial transactions through the Belgian company SWIFT. The PNR agreement forces the transfer of passenger data before each flight. Both agreements were controversial among data protectionists and fought over in the EU Parliament.

Now a new, much more far-reaching agreement in the security field is on the agenda. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is demanding direct access to police biometric databases in the EU. The fingerprints and facial images stored there are intended to facilitate the identification of individuals in the context of U.S. immigration controls. „Border Security Partnership: EU states consider unprecedented biometrics agreement with U.S.“ weiterlesen

Data retention and decryption: Justice and Home Affairs Council wants more surveillance

EU member states will call for bypassing encryption also for counterterrorism and law enforcement. In addition, the entry of extremism suspects should be prevented and their assets frozen in the Union.

Tomorrow, the EU justice ministers will hold their regular meeting in Luxembourg, followed the next day by the interior ministers. Together, they form the Justice and Home Affairs Council, where member states adopt pending legislation or make policy statements.

In addition to the legislative projects, the interior ministers also want to adopt conclusions on the fight against terrorism on Friday. Under the title „Protecting Europeans from terrorism: achievements and next steps“, measures are called for in various areas. There are now several versions of the document, all of which have so far been classified. However, the British civil liberties organization Statewatch has posted an April 11 version online. „Data retention and decryption: Justice and Home Affairs Council wants more surveillance“ weiterlesen

EU instead of EC: New directive facilitates cross-border data exchange

The 2006 „Swedish Initiative“ is being replaced by a new set of rules. This „Lisbonization“ of EU-wide information exchange comes with a uniform case management system and file format, and requires shorter deadlines for processing requests.

The European Union could soon adopt a new directive on information exchange between law enforcement agencies. The Commission had presented a proposal to this effect in December as part of its „Police Code“.

At the upcoming Council of Interior Ministers in Luxembourg on June 10, the member states want to decide their position vis-à-vis the Parliament. Then the so-called trilogue negotiations of the three EU legislative bodies can begin. „EU instead of EC: New directive facilitates cross-border data exchange“ weiterlesen

New regulation: Europol becomes the Big Data police

Following the decision of the EU interior ministers, the new Europol law will come into force in June. The police agency will thus receive new areas of responsibility and powers.

Comparatively quickly, EU member states and the Parliament have launched a new Europol regulation. Once set up to fight drug trafficking, the agency is being given even more powers. However, the agency in The Hague is still not a „European FBI“.

At the end of 2020, the Commission had presented its proposal for the new regulation; in May this year, the three EU decision-making bodies agreed on a final version. After the Parliament, the EU interior ministers also confirmed the final version last week. Now only the publication in the Official Journal is missing, then the new law will apply. „New regulation: Europol becomes the Big Data police“ weiterlesen

Prüm II: EU Committee criticises planned obligation for facial recognition

All EU member states are to network their police facial images and investigation files across Europe. This puts pressure on some governments without such systems.

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has criticised plans to oblige all EU member states to set up a uniform system for police searches of facial images. The EU Commission had presented such a proposal for a new regulation in December. It is to extend the automated data exchange under the Prüm decisions to facial recognition.

In its opinion, the EESC writes that member states should decide for themselves whether to follow the extension of the Prüm system to facial recognition, which was adopted in 2008. So far, such matching is only possible for fingerprints and non-coding DNA data. „Prüm II: EU Committee criticises planned obligation for facial recognition“ weiterlesen

New EU information system: EU member states push for police use of biometric repository

The EU is merging biometric data from different databases into a „Common Identity Repository“. Security authorities are to use it to compare fingerprints and facial images. This will affect tourists, business travellers and refugees from third countries.

If the European „Entry/Exit System“ (EES) goes into operation as planned in four months, all travellers will have to provide fingerprints and facial images when crossing an EU external border. This database is now to be used increasingly by security authorities. The EU interior ministers want to adopt conclusions on this in the Council. The British civil rights organisation Statewatch has published a draft of these conclusions.

The coveted data will be stored in a „Common Identity Repository“ (CIR), which, according to current plans, will be launched in a year’s time. The planned conclusions call on member states to enact laws allowing biometric searches, „in particular for the purpose of facilitating the correct identification of persons“. „New EU information system: EU member states push for police use of biometric repository“ weiterlesen

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