German ANOM investigations: The mysterious EU third state

The FBI had a crypto-messenger programmed that was fully intercepted. For legal reasons, the US authority received the intercepted communication via detours. Because of „hearsay court orders“, its use in German criminal proceedings is questionable.

Ever since the encrypted messenger service EncroChat was hacked by authorities from France and the Netherlands in March 2020, investigative proceedings have been piling up at law enforcement agencies across Europe. Millions of chat messages have been transmitted via Europol to the relevant authorities in EU member states for follow-up. Almost every day, therefore, there are new raids, arrests or convictions in Germany as well.

Although the hack was presumably carried out by a French secret service and involved mass surveillance without any reason, the German Federal Supreme Court – unlike some regional courts before it – recently allowed the use of EncroChat data as evidence in Germany in principle. This was because the information had been collected by France, i.e. an EU member state, and passed on within the framework of European mutual legal assistance. The countries participating in this set of rules were to be trusted in principle. „German ANOM investigations: The mysterious EU third state“ weiterlesen

Screening of travellers: U.S. wants to query fingerprint databases in Europe

To participate in the Visa Waiver Programme, Israel allows U.S. authorities access to its biometric data. The government in Washington wants to make this mandatory for another 40 countries.

The US government has sent a letter to EU member states announcing an Enhanced Border Security Partnership (EBSP). This would regulate access to fingerprint databases by US border authorities. It would be a condition for countries whose nationals can enter the United visa-free.

The German government also received such a notification via the U.S. Embassy in Berlin on 9 February, the Social Democratic Party-led Ministry of the Interior confirmed in its answer to a parliamentary question. „Essentially, among other things, this is probably intended to enable the exchange of biometric data, among other things of travellers,“ the ministry writes somewhat nebulously, adding that further details are currently being clarified. The regulation is to apply from 2027, it says. „Screening of travellers: U.S. wants to query fingerprint databases in Europe“ 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

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

Negotiations on the Europol Regulation: Will there be a „European FBI“ by the end of the year?

Europol is to be allowed to carry out „discreet“ manhunts and request large amounts of data from private companies, using „artificial intelligence“. In addition, the police agency coordinates special units and cooperated with foreign secret services.

The European Parliament, the Commission and the Council today began the so-called trilogue procedure for a new Europol regulation. The police agency with its headquarters in The Hague could receive significantly more competences. It is stipulated, for example, that Europol coordinates the special police units of the member states in the ATLAS network, reports any criminal conduct within Europol’s competence to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and supports the member states in responding to cyber attacks.

A corresponding proposal to amend the current regulation was presented by the Commission last December. The main changes are named in the title of the legislative text: It is about Europol’s cooperation with private parties, the increased processing of personal data and the role in research and innovation. „Negotiations on the Europol Regulation: Will there be a „European FBI“ by the end of the year?“ weiterlesen

New regulation: Europol becomes quasi-secret service

The EU police agency processes billions of personalised „big data“, much of it from governmental hacks or intelligence sources. The new Europol vice-director, who was trained in the French military, plays a special role. Now it’s up to the EU Parliament to decide.

The day before yesterday, the EU interior ministers agreed on a mandate for negotiations on the amendment of the Europol Regulation. The final draft has already been published by the British civil rights organisation Statewatch. This means that negotiations on the planned law with the EU Parliament can begin. The proposal is controversial, as Europol would be allowed to process data from private entities on a large scale, even if they include innocent people or contact persons of suspects.

Six months ago, the Commission had presented the draft for the new Europol Regulation. According to the proposal, Europol should have an additional 178 million euros and 160 new posts by 2027. Because the police agency would then also be allowed to use the Schengen Information System (SIS II), a proposed amendment of the SIS Regulation is also being discussed. With the new legal and financial powers, Europol would be on its way to becoming a „European FBI“, as some German interior politicians have demanded in recent months. „New regulation: Europol becomes quasi-secret service“ weiterlesen

„Battlefield information“: EU police to cooperate more closely with secret services and military

Authorities in the European Union use biometric data and crime scene evidence from Iraq and Syria to process war crimes, secretly track suspects and control migration. Now the procedure is to be extended to African countries.

After a meeting of EU interior and defence ministers in 2017, authorities in member states have been using so-called „battlefield information“ to fight terrorism. In this way, the authorities want to identify and detect „foreign fighters“ when they cross an external EU border. The procedure is to be expanded, the EU anti-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove is therefore calling on governments to engage in a „regular dialogue with their military forces and relevant intelligence and security services“. This is according to two documents posted online by the British civil liberties organisation Statewatch.

„Battlefield information“ comes from countries such as Syria or Iraq, where the „Global Coalition against Daesh“ has been operating militarily since 2014. The intelligence is usually collected there by military secret services. Their dissemination and use goes back to „Operation Gallant Phoenix“, an initiative of the US government. It has a secretariat in Jordan and involves military and intelligence services from 27 Western and Arab states as well as their police authorities. „„Battlefield information“: EU police to cooperate more closely with secret services and military“ weiterlesen

Right-wing attacks: German Police and Europol cannot decrypt suspects‘ devices

The Berlin police fail to crack the mobile phone and laptop of a neo-Nazi. This is stated in the final report of the investigation team on arson and spraying in the Neukölln district. Federal authorities and companies have also chipped their teeth at the devices.

The investigation of a right-wing series of attacks in Berlin is made considerably more difficult by the encryption of devices that the police confiscated from suspects. This is stated in the final report of the „Fokus“ investigation team. Accordingly, the police have asked several official and private agencies for help with decryption, each time unsuccessfully. The classified report has 72 pages, in a much shorter open version the explanations on digital forensics are missing. There is only a footnote stating that „work continues on the decryption of two encrypted devices of a suspect“.

For several years left-wing activists and projects in the Berlin district of Neukölln have been plagued by arson and spraying, while three members of the right-wing scene known to the police are suspected. Because the police were slow in investigating, Senator of the Interior Andreas Geisel (SPD) set up the „Fokus“ investigation team over a year ago. „Independent“ police officers were supposed to check the work of their colleagues. However, there is still no new evidence against the three main suspects Sebastian T., Tilo P. and Julian B. after the end of the new investigation. „Right-wing attacks: German Police and Europol cannot decrypt suspects‘ devices“ weiterlesen

Europol Regulation: Towards a „European FBI“?

The police agency of the European Union is to be given more operational powers. A proposal to this effect from the Commission is expected in December, and the German Council Presidency wants to support the initiative with a conference in Berlin.

Normally, the European Union should not create structures that compete with the member states. This also applies to Europol: the police agency in The Hague is to coordinate investigations into cross-border crime and terrorism, but it does not have police powers. Investigations are the sole responsibility of the authorities of the Member States, which are also responsible for wiretapping, house raids and arrests.

For some years now, German politicians from different parties have been pushing for Europol to be expanded into a „European FBI“. This refers to the US agency which, as the federal police force, is responsible for criminal prosecution and intelligence. The German conservative parties even have included the „European FBI“ in their European election manifesto, and the German „police union“ is also open-minded.

„Europol Regulation: Towards a „European FBI“?“ 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