The tracking bug in your pocket: Mobile phone surveillance in Germany

Procedures according to §§ 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO) to determine the whereabouts and identification of mobile phones in Germany

In addition to telecommunications surveillance (§ 100a StPO) and online searches (§ 100b StPO), German police authorities use technical means within the framework of §§ 100 StPO to determine the location of mobile phones. These include the so-called „silent SMS“, IMSI-Catcher and cell site analysis. Customs and the secret services are also partially authorised to perform these tasks. Six-monthly parliamentary inquiries in the Bundestag document that the number of measures for federal authorities has remained at about the same level in recent years. According to the figures of individual states, the investigative methods under Sections 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are in some cases used much more frequently there than by federal authorities. Some measures for the localisation of telephone owners are in a grey area and have led to legal adjustments. A ruling by the Federal Court of Justice last year could be the reason why the figures for „silent SMS“ have suddenly fallen sharply. Some federal states are currently merging into „Joint Competence and Service Centres“ in the field of police telecommunications surveillance (GKDZ), which are being set up in Hamburg and Leipzig/Dresden. It is possible that with these centralised GKDZs, the number of measures for telecommunications surveillance within the framework of §§ 100 StPO will increase further. „The tracking bug in your pocket: Mobile phone surveillance in Germany“ weiterlesen

Less „Silent SMS“ from German police, but more secrecy for domestic intelligence

The blog Netzpolitik.org graphically displays the sending of „Silent SMS“ every six months. This shows the extent to which police forces and secret services use mobile phones as tracking bugs. Because of this „condensation“ of information worthy of protection, the figures for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution are classified as „secret“.

German Federal authorities currently use significantly less „Silent SMS“ than in previous years. This is shown by the actual figures, which the Federal Ministry of the Interior (MoI) provides on request every six months. Accordingly, the Federal Police (BPOL) sent 20,152 „Silent SMS“ in the first half of 2019 (second half of 2018: 50,654; first half of 2018: 38,990). There was also a decrease by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). In the first half of 2019 the figure was only 6,302, compared with 21,337 secret text messages previously sent by the authority. „Less „Silent SMS“ from German police, but more secrecy for domestic intelligence“ weiterlesen

Significantly more „Silent SMS“ with German police authorities

Police in Germany are a matter for the federal states, this also applies to the surveillance of telecommunications. In Schleswig-Holstein alone, local police departments send as many „Silent SMS“ as the Federal Police. A decision of the Federal Court of Justice should contain this practice, but a change is hardly recognizable.

German authorities are increasingly using mobile phones as a tracking device. This results from the semi-annual overview recently published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in response to a parliamentary question. According to the report, the Federal Police sent 50,654 „Silent SMS“ in the second half of the year, compared with 38,990 in the previous half-year. Only the figures for the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) show a decrease. In the second half of the year, the authority sent 21,337 „Silent SMS“, about 10,000 fewer than previous. „Significantly more „Silent SMS“ with German police authorities“ weiterlesen