„Action day“ on Soundcloud: Europol also removes right-wing extremist content

Currently, removal requests to hosting providers only have to be voluntarily complied with, but on 7 June, the regulation on mandatory removal of terrorist online content will come into force. It only applies to jihadist propaganda. The German government is only now introducing an implementation law.

Once again, Europol has held a „Referral Action Day“ on the removal of internet content. This time the focus was on the online music service Soundcloud. The EU police agency reported around 1,100 illegal audio files and user profiles with terrorist or extremist content to the provider.

The „Action Day“ covered the week between 5 and 13 May. The activities were led by the Counter-Terrorism Centre, which was set up at Europol by EU interior ministers in 2015. This is also where the Internet Content Reporting Unit (EU IRU) is located, which is responsible for detecting and reporting content. „„Action day“ on Soundcloud: Europol also removes right-wing extremist content“ 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

Ukraine war: New Eurojust regulation in fast-track procedure

Eurojust is allowed to store and process personal and biometric data. As EU Justice Agency it 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: 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: Europol Regulation on the home straight“ weiterlesen

Information systems at Europol: Fishing the „data lake“ with a new dragnet

The EU police agency has completely restructured its information systems. German authorities are by far the main users for storage and query. Through a parliamentary question, the successor of Palantir software at Europol is now known.

The European Police Agency in The Hague has various databases, the largest of which is the centralised „Europol Information System“ (EIS). There, police forces of member states put suspects, convicts or „potential“ future criminals when the offences in question fall within Europol’s remit. These include serious or organised crime and terrorism.

For this, personal data, national insurance numbers and telephone numbers, e-mail or IP addresses, evidence can be stored in the EIS, including searchable facial images, non-coding DNA data and fingerprints. The member States retain ownership of the data they transfer, national authorities can determine the purpose for which it is used and set restrictions. „Information systems at Europol: Fishing the „data lake“ with a new dragnet“ weiterlesen

Amendment of SIS II Regulation: Europol to coordinate proposals for alerts from third countries

The EU police agency is to receive lists of persons from foreign authorities and then have them alerted in the Schengen area for refusal of entry, arrest or observation. This legalises a questionable procedure that has long been practised.

Can the US FBI put a Tunisian national on a European database for refusal of entry, even if there is no proof that he belongs to a terrorist organisation as claimed? Should it be permissible for Europol to initiate such alerts even at the behest of an intelligence service from Serbia or Egypt, so that the person concerned is arrested when crossing the border into the Schengen area?

It is certain that the Schengen Information System (SIS II) will soon be supplemented by such a regulation. However, it was disputed between the EU Parliament and the Member States in the Council what role Europol should play in mediating such searches for third-country nationals. Tomorrow, the so-called trilogue negotiations are to be concluded with a consensus between Council and Parliament; after their formal decision in the competent bodies, the regulation would then be valid as of summer. „Amendment of SIS II Regulation: Europol to coordinate proposals for alerts from third countries“ 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

„Migrant smuggling“ via Belarus: Europol wanted 455 internet accounts deleted

The Internet Referral Unit in The Hague also monitors social media for the purpose of prosecuting people who help refugees. However, the removal of content is not obligatory for providers.

The EU police agency has reported at least 455 accounts on social media „promoting illegal immigration services from Belarus to Europe“ to internet companies for deletion. The information comes from a Europol press release from December last year and can now also be found in the current annual report of the Europol-based Centre against Migrant Smuggling (EMSC). The extent to which companies have complied with the reports is not known; Europol gives the number as „many“. Their compliance remains voluntary, even after the transposition deadline of the EU regulation on combating the spread of terrorist content online starts on 7 June.

The deletion requests related to fleeing via Belarus were made in cooperation with Europol’s Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) in The Hague, which is based at the anti-terrorism centre there. Shortly afterwards, EU governments agreed to extend its remit to include prohibited support for irregular migration. However, reports on „terrorism“ continue to make up the majority of the content objected to by Europol. „„Migrant smuggling“ via Belarus: Europol wanted 455 internet accounts deleted“ weiterlesen

Plans for „Prüm II“: EU member states also want to query driving licence facial images

In the framework of the Prüm decisions, police forces have networked their files for fingerprints, DNA data and motor vehicle data across Europe. A new regulation is to extend this to faces. Now there is a threat of further tightening.

With a new „Regulation on automated data exchange for police cooperation“, the European Commission wants to network biometric photographs in police databases across Europe and make them searchable with facial recognition. In this way, a police authority can inquire whether information is available on an unknown person in other countries. A proposal to this effect from last December is currently being discussed by the Council of Ministers of the Interior and Justice, after which the Parliament is to deal with it.

The background is the Prüm Treaty, which seven EU member states signed 17 years ago in the Eifel town. It regulates cooperation in the exchange of fingerprints, non-coding DNA data as well as motor vehicle and owner data. In 2008, the multilateral agreement was transferred into the legal framework of the EU via the EU-Prüm Decision. The Schengen states Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also involved in the network, as is Great Britain after Brexit. „Plans for „Prüm II“: EU member states also want to query driving licence facial images“ weiterlesen

EU Commission proposal: With firearms, drones, GPS tracking into neighbouring countries

According to plans of the EU interior ministers, the Schengen states could soon exercise sovereign powers outside their national borders. This would go far beyond existing agreements.

Are French authorities allowed to bug the car of an environmental activist and use hidden cameras when she is on her way to Spain? After blowing up an ATM, can German police pursue suspects as far as the Netherlands and use firearms? How far inland can such an arrest operation go?

The European Union wants to clarify these and other questions in the field of internal security in a new initiative. To this end, the Commission proposed a Council Recommendation on operational police cooperation in December, which is now being discussed by the Member States in the Council. It goes back to the German EU Presidency in the second half of 2020. At that time, the Federal Ministry of the Interior had Conclusions on Internal Security and a European Police Partnership adopted. There, the EU interior ministers committed themselves to more cooperation, information exchange and the use of new technical surveillance methods, also across borders. „EU Commission proposal: With firearms, drones, GPS tracking into neighbouring countries“ weiterlesen