After years of EU funding: Maritime emergency centre in Libya „not operational“

Since 2017, the EU has invested in one project alone at least €57 million to counter migration from Libya. The Brussels backers also are worried about their reputation.

Since the so-called „migration crisis“, the European Union has been investing in increased surveillance of Libya’s maritime borders. In 2017, Italy was tasked with installing a maritime coordination centre in the capital Tripoli and establishing a Search And Rescue (SAR) zone, for which Libya has since been solely responsible.

A year later, with Italian support, Libya registered this SAR zone with the United Nations Maritime Organisation. Now, however, it turns out that even after five years of EU support, the associated centre in Libya is in fact „not operational“ at all. This was announced by the High Representative and Vice-President of the EU Commission, Joseph Borrell, in response to a parliamentary question. MEP Özlem Demirel had asked about the EU-funded technology in the centre. „After years of EU funding: Maritime emergency centre in Libya „not operational““ weiterlesen

Police agreement: Europol to exchange biometric data with Israel

Israeli authorities are to be allowed to process and interlink personal information from the EU using „automated procedures“. According to a draft, this would even be possible in the territories occupied after 1967, although the so-called territorial clause excludes this.

Five years ago, EU member states gave the Commission a mandate to start negotiations for a Europol agreement with Israel, after the Estonian Presidency had presented a draft to that effect at the end of 2017. Now the Commission appears to have finished negotiating. The British civil rights organisation Statewatch has posted the document online. The Council and Parliament are now expected to give the green light.

The planned cooperation with the EU police agency is explicitly about the exchange of personal data. All authorities responsible for fighting terrorism and organised crime in Israel would benefit from this. According to the draft, however, it would also cover „product piracy“, „racism and xenophobia“, „swindle“ and „migrant smuggling“. „Police agreement: Europol to exchange biometric data with Israel“ weiterlesen

„Wicked problem“: Europol considers vulnerability exploitation to break encryption

At a conference hosted by the EU police agency, three ways to decrypt communications and storage media were discussed. One of the approaches was apparently pushed by the Bavarian State Office of Criminal Investigation.

For at least seven years, EU member states have been looking for ways to give their law enforcement agencies access to encrypted content. Time and again, the Council, which consists of the 27 governments, has stressed the importance of encryption for secure communications and supposedly ruled out backdoors. Like the EU Commission, the EU states instead relied on infecting mobile phones with governmental spyware to read encrypted messenger services. The encryption of seized devices or storage media, on the other hand, was planned to be broken with the help of supercomputers.

But now the establishment of a common vulnerability management is back on the agenda of European police and judicial authorities. Under the leadership of the EU police agency Europol, about 70 participants discussed a possible „EU policy“ in this area – for example, whether security vulnerabilities in software should not be reported immediately to the manufacturers, but should be exploited for the programming of state spying tools. This is according to the transcript of a conference of the „EU Innovation Hub for Internal Security“ published by the British civil liberties organisation Statewatch. At the end of a „Round Table on Encryption“, those responsible had assured that they wanted to tackle the „wicked problem“ at EU level. „„Wicked problem“: Europol considers vulnerability exploitation to break encryption“ weiterlesen

Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed

So far, only EU states and Europol are allowed to access databases at Interpol, but soon Frontex and the new public prosecutor’s office will be allowed to do so as well. The EU Parliament has drawn red lines for the negotiations.

As an intergovernmental organisation, Interpol aims to facilitate international police cooperation in the field of terrorism and serious crime. With 195 member countries, it is the largest organisation of its kind in the world, run by the General Secretariat in Lyon, France. However, it is an informal, i.e. private association, because Interpol is not linked to any other international organisation.

Interpol already cooperates with law enforcement agencies of the European Union at various levels and in various projects, including „integrated border management“ in addition to the organisation’s actual areas of responsibility. This cooperation is now to be carried out under a new agreement. The EU Commission already presented a proposal for this in the spring of last year. However, the negotiations are at a standstill. „Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed“ weiterlesen

Council and Parliament negotiations: EU laws on „E-Evidence“ reportedly on the home straight

Internet service providers are to facilitate the work of law enforcement agencies with orders to preserve and hand over their users‘ data. With an additional directive, companies must designate legal representation and establish points of contact.

Negotiations on the EU proposals on „electronic evidence“ („e-evidence“) could be concluded this year. This is according to a note from the then French Presidency of the Council distributed to delegations of EU member states on June 16. The British civil rights organization Statewatch, which published the document, therefore speaks of an „end game“.

According to France, the second political trialogue between the Council and Parliament on June 14 was a „turning point.“ The two legislative bodies disagreed mainly on the question of whether a state may oppose another country’s order to hand over „electronic evidence“. „Council and Parliament negotiations: EU laws on „E-Evidence“ reportedly on the home straight“ 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

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

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