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

Project SMILE: Interface for European telecommunications interception

The European Investigation Order in criminal matters allows judicial authorities in all EU Member States to instruct each other to collect evidence. It also sets forth provisions for cross-border telecommunications surveillance. The European standardisation institute ETSI is consequently working on interfaces for the hand-over of intercepted phone calls.

By May 22nd, the Member States of the European Union have to transpose the European Investigation Order in criminal matters (EIO) into national law. The Directive defines cross-border cooperation between judicial authorities including courts, investigating judges and public prosecutor’s offices. In the future, an “issuing State” can oblige an “executing State” to gather evidence in criminal proceedings. This entails inter alia conducting investigations.

It also sets forth provisions for the “temporary transfer of persons held in custody”, hearings by video or telephone conference or the use of the European arrest warrant to transfer people (including temporarily) to courts of another state. There is a dedicated chapter on telecommunications surveillance and the transfer of the “electronic evidence” gathered during such. Project SMILE: Interface for European telecommunications interception weiterlesen

Social media companies launch upload filter to combat “terrorism and extremism”

A database set up jointly by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube has become operational. The prototype aims to identify “terrorist and radicalising” content automatically and to remove it from these platforms.

The prototype of a mechanism to prevent the publication of violent terrorist content on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter commenced operations last week. This was announced by European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, who met representatives from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on Friday last week in order to discuss the progress made so far with regard to the “removal of terrorist content online”.
Social media companies launch upload filter to combat “terrorism and extremism” weiterlesen

The road to a population register: EU Commission outlines roadmap for a “common repository of data”

With the statement “Data protection is all well and good, but in times of crisis like these, security takes precedence” the German Minister of the Interior called in March 2016 for a restructuring of EU databases. Major information systems, including biometric data, will be centralised on a step-by-step basis. The planned population register also affects EU citizens.

In April last year, the European Commission established a “high-level group of experts” (HLEG) to investigate „current shortcomings and knowledge gaps of information systems at Union level“. The group aims to find possible ways of improving IT systems and their interoperability. Previously, Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) called for the European Union to improve links between its data repositories. The Commission has now presented the interim report of the HLEG. The road to a population register: EU Commission outlines roadmap for a “common repository of data” weiterlesen