European Commission starts new attack on end-to-end encryption

The „decryption platform“ at Europol plans to switch to supercomputers soon. A working group is looking for ways to counter end-to-end encryption. By the end of the year, the Commission plans to present a study on how internet providers can break these secure connections and report criminal content to the relevant authorities.

For years, the European Commission has been calling for law enforcement authorities to have more access to encrypted communications. The Council, in which the Member States are organised, also adopted conclusions to this effect three years ago. In addition, the European Union’s “ Anti-Terrorism Co-ordinator“ Gilles de Kerchove regularly publishes papers calling for the elimination of secure communications. Most recently, Kerchove drew attention to the gaming community and its chats with end-to-end encryption. „European Commission starts new attack on end-to-end encryption“ weiterlesen

Frontex aircraft: Below the radar against international law

For three years, Frontex has been chartering small aircraft for the surveillance of the EU’s external borders. First Italy was thus supported, then Croatia followed. Frontex keeps the planes details secret, and the companies also switch off the transponders for position display during operations.

The European Commission does not want to make public which private surveillance planes Frontex uses in the Mediterranean. In the non-public answer to a parliamentary question, the EU border agency writes that the information on the aircraft is „commercially confidential“ as it contains „personal data and sensitive operational information“.

Frontex offers EU member states the option of monitoring their external borders using aircraft. For this „Frontex Aerial Surveillance Service“ (FASS), Frontex charters twin-engined airplanes from European companies. Italy first made use of the service in 2017, followed a year later by Croatia. In 2018, Frontex carried out at least 1,800 flight hours under the FASS, no figures are yet available for 2019. „Frontex aircraft: Below the radar against international law“ weiterlesen

Europol uses Palantir

Since 2016, the European Police Agency has been using the „Gotham“ software to analyse big data. Europol has signed a contract for 7.5 million euros with the company Capgemini, just over half of the money has already been spent. Palantir promoted the software at the „European Police Congress“ in Berlin.

The police agency Europol in The Hague has been running the „Gotham“ software of the US company Palantir for several years. This is what the European Commission writes in its answer to a parliamentary question. The application was tested in 2016 within the framework of the „Fraternité“ task force, which Europol set up after the attacks in France at that time. Palantir is criticized for his close cooperation with the military and secret services in the USA.

Since mid-2017, „Gotham“ has been in continuous operation, and Europol is using it for „operational analysis“. This enables investigators to calculate and visualize relationships between persons, objects or the course of events. „Structured data“, such as contact lists, tables from radio cell queries and travel histories, are linked with „unstructured data“ such as photos or location data. This big data analysis is intended to generate new investigative hints. „Europol uses Palantir“ weiterlesen

SPECTRE Project: EU finances technology for undercover investigations

Police forces from 34 countries have been investigating criminal networks in South Eastern Europe since 2017, money comes from the Internal Security Fund of the European Union. In addition to all kinds of espionage and wiretapping technology, they also pay informers.

For undercover investigations, European police forces use miniaturized surveillance technology, but usually remain extremely secretive about how it works. Since 2017, spy cameras, pocket microphones, mini drones and other equipment have also been procured through an EU project. This is why the European Commission had to provide details of the small devices in response to a parliamentary question. „SPECTRE Project: EU finances technology for undercover investigations“ weiterlesen

Prüm Decision: European criminal police offices agree on face recognition system

The European Union is extending the cross-border query of biometric data to faces. Searches should also be possible with still images from surveillance cameras. Up to now, only individuals may be processed in the Prüm framework, but soon bulk searches could be permitted.

In 2008, the Member States of the European Union signed the EU Prüm Decision. The treaty allows law enforcement authorities to conduct cross-border searches of DNA, fingerprints and data containing vehicles and their owners. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Prüm Decision, the Council had proposed Conclusions to extend this cooperation to facial images.

For the envisaged „Next generation Prüm“ (Prüm.ng), the Commission first ordered a feasibility study from the consulting firm Deloitte. It was submitted last autumn and is being discussed in the relevant Council working groups, but remains secret. The British civil rights organisation Statewatch has published a report by a „focus group on face recognition“ in which ten criminal police offices define, on the basis of the Deloitte study, a technical framework for the comparison of faces. „Prüm Decision: European criminal police offices agree on face recognition system“ weiterlesen

Drones for Frontex: Unmanned migration control at Europe’s borders

Instead of providing sea rescue capabilities in the Mediterranean, the EU is expanding air surveillance. Refugees are observed with drones developed for the military. In addition to numerous EU states, countries such as Libya could also use the information obtained.

It is not easy to obtain majorities for legislation in the European Union in the area of migration – unless it is a matter of upgrading the EU’s external borders. While the reform of a common EU asylum system has been on hold for years, the European Commission, Parliament and Council agreed to reshape the border agency Frontex with unusual haste shortly before last year’s parliamentary elections. A new Regulation has been in force since December 2019, under which Frontex intends to build up a „standing corps“ of 10,000 uniformed officials by 2027. They can be deployed not just at the EU’s external borders, but in ‘third countries’ as well.

In this way, Frontex will become a „European border police force“ with powers that were previously reserved for the member states alone. The core of the new Regulation includes the procurement of the agency’s own equipment. The Multiannual Financial Framework, in which the EU determines the distribution of its financial resources from 2021 until 2027, has not yet been decided. According to current plans, however, at least €6 billion are reserved for Frontex in the seven-year budget. The intention is for Frontex to spend a large part of the money, over €2 billion, on aircraft, ships and vehicles. Continue at Statewatch (PDF)

Border with Turkey: EU Commission wants to track down refugees with „foliage detection“

A EU research project is testing the combination of different surveillance technologies on refugees. This involves telephone and motion detectors, cameras, radar systems, electromagnetic sensors as well as eavesdropping microphones. In addition to drones, „stratospheric platforms“ will also be used.

On its research website, the EU Commission states that „irregular migration has dramatically increased, and is no longer manageable with existing systems“. This is why the Commission wants to improve the detection of undocumented border crossings with new technology. The focus is on densely wooded land borders, which are difficult to monitor with patrols. The security research project is entitled „Through-foliage detection, including in the outermost regions of the EU“ (FOLDOUT) and is led by the Austrian Institute of Technology. Among those involved are the French armaments group Thales and border police forces from Bulgaria, Finland, Lithuania and Poland. „Border with Turkey: EU Commission wants to track down refugees with „foliage detection““ weiterlesen

Civil and military research: New EU Centre for Cyber Security remains controversial

The European Union wants to increase its „resilience, deterrence and defence“ in the area of cyber security. A new centre will coordinate research and training activities. However, the proposed regulation is not compatible with existing institutions and funding programmes.

The establishment of a European Competence Centre for Cyber Security (ECCC) continues to stagnate. MEPs and Member State governments had defined their positions in March and started negotiations on a regulation. However, an agreement was not reached as planned in the previous legislative period and is not foreseeable with the new EU Parliament.

More than a year ago, the EU Commission presented a regulation establishing an ECCC. It was based on conclusions, in which the Council two years ago called for more „resilience, deterrence and defence“ for cyber security. The ECCC, mentioned there for the first time, is intended to reduce the European Union’s dependence on “ depends on non-European cybersecurity providers“ and bundle efforts in the areas of industry, technology and research. This is intended to ensure the „smooth functioning of the internal market“. „Civil and military research: New EU Centre for Cyber Security remains controversial“ weiterlesen

New Technologies: Europol sets up an „Innovation Laboratory“

The EU interior ministers want to respond to the „challenges and opportunities“ of new technologies. The focus is on 5G networks, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, drones, 3D printing and improved decryption.

The Europol Police Agency will focus more on new technologies in the field of internal security. To this end, Europol will set up an „Innovation Laboratory“ to look for new ways of intercepting, decrypting and monitoring. This was decided unanimously by the European Interior Ministers at their last Council meeting at the beginning of October.

The new centre will take a „proactive approach“ and analyse new products and processes before they come onto the market. At present, however, the focus is on equipment that is already available, including 3D printers for manufacture weapons. The „Innovation Laboratory“ also deals with the „Internet of Things“. It deals with „challenges and opportunities“, i.e. the criminal use of technologies and their potential use for law enforcement. „New Technologies: Europol sets up an „Innovation Laboratory““ weiterlesen

EU external borders: Frontex ends test with unmanned airship

The EU border agency Frontex is responsible for the security of the external borders. Its tasks also include testing new surveillance technologies. The Portuguese National Guard, among others, provides support.

The Greek coast guard has completed the test of an airship to monitor its maritime borders off the island of Samos. An aerostat attached to a 1,000 metre long cable was used and provided by the EU border agency Frontex. The pilot project was part of the Frontex operation „Poseidon“ in the eastern Mediterranean, which started more than ten years ago and lasted one month. The German Federal Police has also been present in „Poseidon“ since 2016 with two ships off the Turkish coast.

The 35-meter-long zeppelin comes from the French manufacturer A-NSE. The company specializes in civil and military aerial observation. According to the Greek Marine Ministry, the equipment included a radar, a thermal imaging camera and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) for the tracking of larger ships. „EU external borders: Frontex ends test with unmanned airship“ weiterlesen