Europol loses 700 pages of confidential information on terrorism investigations

A long-standing Europol employee posted by the Dutch police took dossiers containing sensitive personal information home and copied them onto a hard drive. The information ended up in the hands of a TV station.

Dutch media have reported a huge data leak at Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency based in The Hague. A staff member allegedly took classified information home and made digital copies of the data on a hard drive. This Lenovo storage device was connected to the Internet. More than 700 pages of confidential information ultimately landed in the hands of TV magazine Zembla who exposed the leak. Europol loses 700 pages of confidential information on terrorism investigations weiterlesen

About the implementation of the EU Directive on the use of passenger name record data

The PNR directive obliges air carriers to collect a whole host of data and pass it on to the border authorities in advance of all flights. This information includes registration data, seat and flight numbers, along with food preferences, credit card details or IP addresses. PNR passenger information units (PIUs) in the Member States then analyse the information to identify “suspects and anomalous travel patterns”.

On 27 April, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the Directive on the use of passenger name record (PNR) data. Information collected at the booking stage can now be used by police forces and intelligence services to “prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute” terrorist offences or serious crime. For flights from and to the EU, up to 60 individual pieces of data on passengers are collected and stored for five years. These include registration data, seat and flight numbers, along with food preferences, credit card details or IP addresses.

The collection of PNR data not only applies to airlines, but also to travel agencies, tour operators or other service providers who book flights. In the future, the plan is for European PNR data to also be exchanged with third countries or international organisations.   About the implementation of the EU Directive on the use of passenger name record data weiterlesen

New EU network of judicial authorities to combat the “challenges stemming from encryption”

The European Union intends to simplify investigative authorities’ access to encrypted content. This emerged from the replies to a questionnaire that was circulated to all Member States by the Slovak Presidency of the EU Council. After a “reflection process”, efforts in this area are, according to the summary of the replies, intended to give rise to a framework for cooperation with Internet providers. It remains unclear whether this will take the form ofa recommendation, regulation or directive.

The replies to the questionnaire are now being examined by the Friends of the Presidency Group on Cyber Issues (FoP Cyber), which also held discussions on “increasing tendencies to exploit encrypted communication in order to hide criminal activities, identities and crime scenes”. Those taking part included the European External Action Service, the European Defence Agency and other EU institutions. FoP Cyber’s recommendations will then be addressed at the meeting of the next Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels. New EU network of judicial authorities to combat the “challenges stemming from encryption” weiterlesen

New powers for the German Federal Police: undercover agents to combat unwanted migration

In the future, the Federal Police will also be able to deploy undercover agents. The provision is part of the new “Act to Improve Information Exchange in the Fight Against International Terrorism”, which the Grand Coalition adopted on 24 June 2016 and the parliamentary groups of the opposition voted against.

The version amended by the Committee on Internal Affairs which was finally adopted states that the deployment of undercover agents has now become “indispensible and long overdue” [1] for the central policing duties the Federal Police has assumed for 20 years now. In the debate over the bill, the President of the Federal Police, Dieter Romann, also spoke out. In a statement submitted late[2] he cited the phenomenon of “illegal migration” as justification for the need for statutory undercover threat-prevention powers. He stated that the Federal Police was no longer in a position to sufficiently counter the tactics of “smuggler organisations” “using traditional, conventional methods”. “People smugglers” acted “highly conspiratorially, with division of labour, shielding themselves from police actions to a large degree”. Witnesses and victims, he claimed, were “intimidated with violence or coerced into giving false evidence”. “The most deaths”, he said, were in the area of organised crime, which “illegal people smuggling” is subsumed under. For this reason the preventive deployment of undercover agents by the Federal Police was a “tactical requirement”. This included, he went on, “discretionary investigations”. Such a possibility existed in almost all of the police laws of the Länder, or federal states, (with the exception of Schleswig-Holstein) and in the Federal Criminal Police Office Act and had proven successful. New powers for the German Federal Police: undercover agents to combat unwanted migration weiterlesen

The United Kingdom will have to withdraw from Europol by next spring

The Treaty of Amsterdam gives the United Kingdom the right to decide on its involvement in EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case-by-case basis (opt-in/opt-out). Alongside police and judicial cooperation on criminal matters, this applies to the external borders, asylum, migration and cooperation on civil matters. Thus, the United Kingdom opted out of the Blue Card Directive, the Directive on the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents and the Directive on the return of third-country nationals, for example. This means that the authorities cannot access the Visa Information System.

At the same time, however, the British government benefits from individual legislative acts to combat and prevent undesired migration. British authorities are not part of Frontex, yet take part in Frontex measures via bilateral agreements (e.g. joint deportations). The United Kingdom will have to withdraw from Europol by next spring weiterlesen

First child pornography, now extremism: Internet providers and police investigation authorities to use Microsoft upload filters

Material uploaded onto the Web could soon be scanned for extremist or radicalising content with an upload filter produced by Microsoft. The filter would be installed in the systems of Internet service providers (ISPs), but the necessary databases could be held by the police authorities.

Two weeks ago in Washington, the international Counter Extremism Project presented a software solution with which extremist content is said to be detectable on upload. The process is based on PhotoDNA, an application originally developed by Microsoft to combat child pornography. It is able to detect video and audio content. The recognition rate is reportedly in the region of 98%.

PhotoDNA operates on the principle known as ‘robust hashing’ and extracts a distinct digital signature from the file. With the checksum, the software is then able to recognise images even if they have been distorted or post-edited. The comparison is made with a hash database, which is administered either by ISPs or by both ISPs and public authorities. In the United States, for example, PhotoDNA makes use of the database of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, also maintains a Child Sexual Exploitation Image Database. First child pornography, now extremism: Internet providers and police investigation authorities to use Microsoft upload filters weiterlesen